A new mapping project has discovered that a majority of rural communities in Vietnam are still living on land contaminated with unexploded bombs and landmines.
As many as 82 percent of rural districts and towns across the country face this problem, Colonel Nguyen Van Xuong told a conference in Hanoi on Thursday, where officials and experts disccussed measures to clear post-war unexploded ordnance.
Xuong said the national map, a project of the military's Technology Center for Bomb and Mine Disposal, can visually reveal where the remnants of war are.
The center has surveyed the country’s almost entire landmass and found that more than 9,000 out of 11,000 rural communities still have unexploded ordnance. In acreage terms, the contaminated areas total 6.1 million hectares.
These include towns and districts in the central provinces of Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue, where the most intensive battles took place during the Vietnam War.
Xuong said more affected communities will be identified when inspectors move to the next phase of their investigation.
Deputy Minister of the Vietnam People’s Army Colonel General Nguyen Chi Vinh said scattered throughout the country, landmines and explosive remnants of war have claimed the lives of more than 50,000 people and injured 60,000 others, adding that most of the victims are either main income earners or children.
Vietnam is receiving international support for its national mine action program over the next five years. The U.S. alone has pledged $12 million for mine clearance in Vietnam.