Billions of dollars needed to clear all bombs, mines left from wars

Update: April, 03/2019 - 11:48

Việt Nam wants to tackle the consequences left over from years of war in the next few decades, a Government official said on Tuesday.— VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam wants to tackle the consequences left over from years of war in the next few decades, a Government official said on Tuesday.

At a press conference on the country’s ordnance cleanup programmes ahead of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action that falls on April 4, chief secretariat of the office of Labour, Invalid and Social Affairs Ministry Nguyễn Bá Hoan said that Việt Nam’s Government and people as well as the international community were working together to speed up the process.

According to the Ministry of Defence, about 800,000 tonnes of unexploded bombs and mines left over from wartime remain buried over 6.13 million hectares, accounting for 18.82 per cent of the country.

At the current rate of clearance, it would take the country at least 100 years and billions of dollars to complete the job.

The figure does not include the billions of US dollars needed for resettlement and ensuring social security in contaminated areas.

Since 1975, leftover wartime bombs and mines have killed over 40,000 people and injured 60,000 more.

Colonel Nguyễn Hạnh Phúc, vice director general of the Việt Nam National Mine Action Centre (VNMAC), said the Government and Prime Minister had been asking the Ministry of Defence to speed up the cleanup, especially in highly contaminated areas like Quảng Trị, Quảng Nam, Bình Định, Hà Giang and the Mekong Delta.  

Phúc said they would be calling for both domestic and international assistance to tackle the issue.  

Joint efforts

In April, 2010, a national action programme was launched aiming to mobilise local and international resources for the work between 2010 and 2025.

In April 2018, the National Steering Committee on the Settlement of Post-War Unexploded Ordnance and Toxic Chemical Consequences (Office 701) was established. Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc said at the opening ceremony of the office that the settlement of post-war unexploded ordnance and toxic chemical consequences was an urgent task to protect people, clean up the environment and help localities to achieve sustainable socio-economic development.

Phúc also asked ministries and agencies to take preventive measures and assist victims of post-war bombs and mines.

Now, victims are eligible for Government assistances in finance, healthcare and job training.

According to the VNMAC, the centre had cleared 1,100ha in Hà Tĩnh and 32,200ha in Quảng Trị since 2014.

In March 2018, the Korean government and VNMAC started a US$20 million cleanup project in the central provinces of Quảng Bình and Bình Định.

Another notable international project is PeaceTrees Vietnam –the first US organisation permitted to sponsor humanitarian demining activities in the country.

Since its founding in 1995, the organisation has done a lot for Quảng Trị which is one of most contaminated localities in Việt Nam. For example, it has helped removed over 105,000 items of ordnance, planted about 44,000 trees, provided mine risk education for about 86,000 people, and given about 2,000 scholarships for students in affected areas.

On March 31, hundreds of local students and soldiers marched through the streets of Quy Nhơn City in the central province of Bình Định calling for joint efforts to address the consequences of post-war UXOs in response to International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.

Also on the occasion, a painting contest themed “For a safe community free of UXO accidents” took place, attracting 100 students aged between 8 and 15 from schools across the province. — VNS