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Sharing the burden of post-war landmines and UXOs aftermath

Update: April, 04/2018 - 09:39
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has called for joint efforts and drastic actions to address the lingering consequences of bombs, mines and unexploded ordnances (UXO) left by wars throughout the country. — VNA/VNS Photo Thống Nhất

HÀ NỘI — Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has called for joint efforts and drastic actions to address the lingering consequences of bombs, mines and unexploded ordnances (UXO) left by wars throughout the country.

Addressing an exchange programme yesterday to mark International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, which is officially marked today, Phúc asked for quick reduction of areas contaminated with bombs, mines and UXOs as well as better prevention and support for victims.  

He stressed that it was necessary to focus on solving the consequences of landmines and toxins with the priorities of protecting people’s health and safety, cleaning up the environment and creating conditions for localities affected by landmine / UXO to develop sustainability.

“Although the war has been over, the severe consequences of landmines, UXOs and toxic chemicals still exist, affecting human health and living environments in many parts of the country,” said the Prime Minister.

“Many people have lost their lives or suffered the loss of a part of their body or lost their loved ones. The consequences of landmine and UXO contamination have also limited socio-economic development and become an obstacle to Việt Nam’s sustainable development goals,” he added.

Over the past few years, the Party and the State had always paid great attention to policies to help overcome the consequences, especially helping victims of landmines and toxic chemicals after the war, Phúc said, adding that ministries, sectors and localities in the country had actively co-operated with international organisations to remove bombs, mines and chemicals left behind from the wars in Việt Nam.

He thanked international donors and non-governmental organisations for providing equipment and funds to support the efforts.

The National Steering Committee on the Settlement of Post-war Unexploded Ordnance and Toxic Chemical Consequences, or Committee 701, under the Ministry of National Defence made its public debut on the occasion. Prime Minister Phúc is the committee’s head.

The committee was established on May 24, 2017 and has been tasked with proposing solutions to mobilise donations at home and abroad for the settlement of consequences of post-war bombs, mines and toxic chemicals in Việt Nam

The Việt Nam National Mine Action also released the first phase of the programme’s map showing contaminated areas where work is ongoing.

Deputy Minister of National Defence, Senior Lieutenant General Nguyễn Chí Vịnh, in an interview with Vietnam Television said that releasing the map would help Việt Nam in development.

“We have been able to identify clearly and precisely which places are uncontaminated from landmines and UXOs and safe for people in order to attract investment for sustainable development,” he said.

At the exchange program, Prime Minister Phúc and other attendants sent a text message to support the victims of post-war landmines and UXOs.

The text message, “BM” to 1403, is a programme operated by the Committee 701 in co-ordination with the National Humanitarian Portal (Portal 1400) from 9 am on March 31 to 5pm on April 30. Each message contributes VNĐ20,000 to the Landmine Impact Assistance Fund.

It is estimated that more than 6.1 million ha of land or 18.71 per cent of Việt Nam’s total area are contaminated with about 800,000 tonnes of bombs, mines and UXOs left by wars, which are scattered over all 63 cities and provinces in the country, with the central region the hardest hit. 

Between 1975 and now, bombs and mines killed more than 40,000 people and injured 60,000 others, many of whom are family breadwinners and children. 

Over 2,000 sappers died and got injured while searching for bombs and mines during the period. 

Right after the end of war, the Vietnamese Party and State identified the settlement of consequences caused by war-era bombs, mines and UXO as an urgent but long-term task. 

For the 2016-25 period, the Government aims to clear about 800,000 ha of bomb- and mine-polluted land, while calling for domestic and international resources for the implementation of the programme. 

At the same time, residents living in the danger zones will be relocated and bomb and mine clearance projects will be added to local socio-economic development plans. 

Thanks to the joint efforts, each year, Vietnam decontaminated 40,000-50,000 ha of land. However, it will take more than a century to clear all bombs and mines in the country, with an estimated cost of over US$10 billion, excluding spending on resettlement and social welfare work in the danger zones. 

In Việt Nam, 40 social service centres and 400 rehabilitation centres have been established so far to assist people with disabilities, including victims of post-war bombs and mines. 

All bomb and mines victims in the country have been entitled to social welfare benefits such as free health insurance cards and support in functional rehabilitation and vocational training. — VNS


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