Vietnam draws up danger-zone map of unexploded bombs

By Vo Van Thanh   June 15, 2016 | 02:59 pm GMT+7
Vietnam draws up danger-zone map of unexploded bombs
Deputy Minister of Defense Nguyen Chi Vinh signed a $20 million joint project with representatives of the South Korean government to remove land mines and leftover UXO in Vietnam. Photo by VnExpress/Vinh An

Vietnam has completed the first phase of a national map that outlines mines and unexploded ordnances (UXO) left over from past wars following years of surveys and clearance efforts, according to the Ministry of Defense.

The map will be updated annually, said Nguyen Chi Vinh, deputy minister of Vietnam's Defense Ministry.

Recent survey results show that Vietnam has about 6.1 million hectares (over 18 percent) of land that is still littered with mines and UXOs. Vinh said that drawing up the map has been particularly difficult due to the variety of weapons used in past wars. By drawing up and updating the map, Vietnam hopes to minimize detonation accidents.

The map will also help determine the technology and approach needed for effective clearance, in addition to identifying the category of bombs and landmines in each specific area, the deputy minister added.

Many countries have shown willingness to support Vietnam to clear unexploded bombs and mines. On June 14, Vinh signed a joint project between Vietnam and South Korea to remove land mines and leftover UXOs.

Based on the agreement, South Korea will offer Vietnam $20 million in non-refundable aid to clear 8,000 hectares of former battlefields in the central provinces of Quang Binh and Binh Dinh. The project is scheduled to begin in the second half of the year and run through 2020.

According to Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, an estimated 800,000 tons of UXOs are left in Vietnam since 1975. All provinces and cities in Vietnam are polluted by landmines and unexploded ordnance, mainly from the American-Vietnam War and the Sino-Vietnamese War. The worst affected areas are in the central region and some northern border provinces.

Each year, on average, mines claim 1,535 lives and permanently injure 2,272 people. A preliminary survey of six central provinces (Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien - Hue and Quang Ngai) shows that there have been 22,760 victims of war mines in total, of which 10,529 people have died and 12,200 people have been injured.

Vietnam spends over VND1 trillion ($44 million) annually on demining operations and hundreds of billions of dong for treatment, assistance, rehabilitation, vocational training and resettlement for the victims of UXOs, according to government website.

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