Central Vietnam province pledged over $6 mln for mine clearance

By Hoang Tao   November 5, 2020 | 12:30 am PT
Central Vietnam province pledged over $6 mln for mine clearance
A team from the Mines Advisory Group remove a wartime bomb in Quang Binh Province, 2019. Photo courtesy of Mines Advisory Group.
The U.S. and Japan governments have committed $6.13 million to clear explosives and mines left from the Vietnam War in the central province of Quang Binh.

The project, funded by the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement under the U.S. Department of State, and the government of Japan, aims to survey traces of wartime cluster bombs across Quang Binh to ensure safe clearance procedures, clean up bombs, mines and other ordnances to reduce the risk of casualties and support local communities affected by the war, and implement a database information system for mine clearance and analysis at provincial level.

Activities will be conducted by three leading mine clearance organizations -- the Norwegian People's Aid (NPA), a Norway-based organization working to provide post-conflict reconstruction assistance and humanitarian relief during conflicts, PeaceTrees Vietnam, an NGO based in the U.S. that works to clear leftover explosives, and British NGO Mines Advisory Group, which assists people affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance.

The project is built on the experience of a survey and clearance project implemented for the past five years in neighboring Quang Tri Province, a former Vietnam War battleground.

Authorities in Quang Binh on Thursday said Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc approved the project, to complete by May 2025.

Quang Binh had suffered severe bombing by U.S. aircraft and warships during the Vietnam War (1954-1975).

According to statistics by the Ministry of National Defense’s Technology Center for Bomb and Mine Disposal and the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, nearly 225,000 ha of land across Quang Binh was contaminated by unexploded ordnances (UXO). Landmine or UXO accidents have claimed more than 2,930 lives in the province.

Vietnam is one of the most heavily contaminated countries in the world when it comes to explosives. Between 1945 and 1975, during two wars with French and American invaders, more than 15 million tons of explosives were dropped on Vietnam; four times more than the amount unleashed during World War II, according to the Vietnam National Mine Action Center.

With support from the international community, Vietnam is clearing an average 40,000-50,000 ha per year, though it may still take up to 100 years to rid the country of this deadly legacy.

According to government data, a fifth of land in Vietnam is contaminated by unexploded ordnance, and explosions occur frequently. More than 1,500 people are killed every year, while another 2,200 are maimed.

Many are killed by inadvertently triggering devices, while others die trying to cut open bombs to resell the explosives and scrap metal.

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