The Vietnam Bombs and Mines Action Support Association was established in Hanoi on November 12 with the aim to assist efforts to tackle the impacts of unexploded ordnances (UXOs) and aid UXO victims.

The association, headed by former Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army Lieutenant General Nguyen Duc Soat, has gathered more than 200 voluntary scientists, researchers and war veterans with experience in the field.

The association will work together with local authorities and other social organisations to raise financial aid from foreign and domestic businesses and individuals as well as international organisations for bomb and mine clearance missions and improving the life of UXO victims.

At the same time, the organisation plans to popularise information on the UXO risks and prevention measures among communities in areas severely polluted by UXO.

Nearly 40 years after the end of the war, many areas across the country are still contaminated by UXOs, which seriously threaten the safety of local communities while hindering socio-economic development.

Preliminary statistics show that UXOs have claimed more than 42,000 lives and left about 62,000 injured, mostly rural people and children, over the last four decades.

Each year on average, more than 1,500 people die and nearly 2,300 people get injured, including many children, due to UXO-related causes.

Immediately after the war, the Vietnamese Government has worked tirelessly to deal with the situation through many programmes and projects, spending between 80-100 million USD each year on the task despite the country’s economic difficulties.

In April 2010, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung approved the National Action Programme on Settling the Consequences of UXOs (known as Programme 504) for the 2010-2025 period with the aim of mobilising domestic and international resources to clear UXO and help victims integrate into society.

From 2010 to 2015, the programme aims to conduct surveys and develop a complete map of UXO contamination across the country and build a national database on the field besides regular activities of demining and educational campaigns. In 2012-2013, nearly 100,000 ha of land were cleared from UXOs. The UXO map has been completed while information of 49 out of the country’s 63 provinces has been fed into the national database.

In 2016-2025, the programme is expected to perform clearance of bombs and mines over about 800,000 ha, and continue to boost information and its cooperation with foreign agencies to disarm UXO.

Vietnam has also signed Memoranda of Understanding on cooperation in tackling the UXO issue with the US Government, the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and the International Centre (IC). At the same time, the country is working with foreign partners in the field in the framework of the United Nations’ Development Programme (UNDP) and the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+). Many countries and international organisations also provided support in the forms of human resource, techniques and experience sharing.

Last year, the Vietnam Mine Action Centre (VNMAC) was established with the aim of coordinating funding sources and relevant bodies to develop and implement long-term, medium-term and short-term action plans and specific targets for post-war bomb and mine clearance.

The US army used more than 15 million tonnes of bombs and mines in the war in Vietnam, four times the amount used in World War 2. As a result, Vietnam has been listed among the countries most contaminated with unexploded ordnance (UXOs).

According to the National Steering Committee for Programme 504, about 800,000 tonnes of UXOs are scattering across 6.6 million hectares, or 20.12 percent of the country’s land, mainly in the central region, putting people in danger every day.

The Technology Centre for Bomb and Mine Disposal under the Engineering Command reported that more than 88 percent of the communes in the country’s 63 provinces are polluted with UXO (7,645 out of 8,686).-VNA