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Vietnam to speed up demining process

By Hoang Thuy   February 18, 2022 | 12:52 am PT
Vietnam to speed up demining process
Members of bomb clearance organization PeaceTrees Vietnam measure an MK 82 bomb found in Quang Tri Province, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quang Ha
Vietnam targets to remove unexploded ordnance (UXO) from 75,000 hectares of land annually to soon clear 5.6 million hectares of contaminated land.

"For the 2021-2025 period, we will drastically direct the process of demining to achieve the target of screening 500,000 hectares (1.24 million acres) and cleaning around 75,000 hectares per year," said Deputy Minister of National Defense Hoang Xuan Chien.

The new targets are 50 percent higher than previously, he told a Thursday meeting in Hanoi to conclude the National Action Program for Overcoming the Impact of Post-War Bombs and Mines.

Before the program was launched in 2010, Vietnam had 6.1 million hectares of land that remained infested with mines and other explosives from the Vietnam War (1955-1975), accounting for 18.82 percent of the country's total land area.

In 2010-2020, almost 50,000 hectares had been cleared at a total cost of more than VND12.6 trillion, with over VND10.4 trillion derived from Vietnam's budget and the rest from non-refundable foreign aid.

Addressing the meeting, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said the results have not "met expectations."

The area of land contaminated with UXO in Vietnam remains large, 5.6 million hectares, while Vietnam's resources are limited. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen international cooperation, he said.

"I'd like to express my sincere gratitude to the governments of other countries and international organizations for accompanying Vietnam in overcoming the consequences of war in general and dealing with bombs and mines in particular," said the PM.

Attending the event, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Evans Knapper said the U.S. pledges to continue supporting Vietnam to remove all UXO from the war.

Jerry Guilbert, chief of Programs for Weapons Removal and Abatement under the U.S. Department of State, said last year the U.S. has set a target of removing all UXO left in Quang Tri Province from the Vietnam War by the end of 2025. Quang Tri was the stage of the Tet Offensive in 1968 and Easter Offensive in 1972.

"Vietnam has been a tremendous partner for the U.S. when it comes to addressing legacies of war, not just, obviously, the unexploded ordnance issue, but also the issues of those who've been missing in action as well as dioxin and Agent Orange," he said.

Since 1975 when the war ended, more than 40,000 people have been killed and 60,000 injured due to UXO left from the war.

Around 800,000 tons of UXO remain scattered across the country, the National Steering Committee on Overcoming Post-War Unexploded Ordnance and Toxic Chemical Consequences said in 2018.

Vietnam is one of the most heavily contaminated countries in the world when it comes to explosives, it said.

 
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