The central province of Thue Thien-Hue has been working hard to disarm tens of thousands of bombs and mines left underground by the war so as to give safe land back to its locals.

The province has more than 172,400 hectares of land contaminated with unexploded ordnance (UXO), or 34.4 percent of its total area - one of the highest levels in Vietnam. The worst affected districts are A Luoi (65,000 ha), Phong Dien (39,000 ha), Nam Dong (18,000 ha) and Huong Tra (13,000 ha).

Lieutenant Colonel Tran Tuan Anh, head of the board of sappers under the Thua Thien-Hue Military High Command, said in the past 10 years, the province has cleared over 14,900 ha of land of some 16,000 pieces of UXO.

The reclaimed land has helped local residents settle their lives and ensure ground for building socio-economic facilities, he noted.

Many international organisations offered assistance totalling 10 million USD to the province in the work, such as the German ministries for Foreign Affairs and Economic Cooperation and Development, the Australian Agency for International Development, Australian Volunteers International, and the Mines Advisory Group from the UK.

Anh said to minimise risks, Thua Thien-Hue is pushing forward the popularisation of the issue to local people and boosting its cooperation with foreign agencies to disarm UXO.

The US used over 15 million tonnes of bombs and shells during its war in Vietnam.

According to the Technology Centre for Bomb and Mine Disposal under the Engineering Command, up to 7,645 of the 8,686 communes in the country’s 63 provinces are polluted with UXO. The amount of explosive materials is estimated at 800,000 tonnes, mostly in the central region.

Deputy Director of the centre Nguyen Anh Tuan said 6.6 million ha of land, or 20.12 percent of Vietnam’s area, is contaminated with UXO which has killed and injured more than 100,000 people in the past four decades.
It is estimated that for every 16 USD it cost to produce a mine, Vietnam will have to spend 800 USD to disarm it.

Therefore, to remove hundreds of thousands of UXO units, the country needs huge financial and comprehensive support and help from the international community.-VNA