A workshop discussing measures to support people suffering the con sequences of unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over from the war in Vietnam took place in Hanoi on December 4.

The event was organised by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA) in conjunction with the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation under the International Centre (IC-VVAF) and t he US organisation Clear Path International (CPI).

In her opening speech, MoLISA Minister Pham Thi Hai Chuyen explained the dangers caused by UXOs in Vietnam.

Since 1975, about 6.6 million hectares of land, equivalent to over 21 percent of the country’s land area, has been covered by 800,000 tonnes of UXOs.

Preliminary statistics show that UXOs have claimed more than 40,000 lives and left about 60,000 injured, mostly rural people and children, over the last four decades.

The consequences still exist nationwide, especially in the six central provinces of Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Ngai. As many as 22,760 people in the localities have suffered, with 10,529 people killed and 12,231 injured.

In recent years, the Vietnamese Government has worked tirelessly to deal with the situation.

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 2010-2015 period with the aim of mobilising domestic and international resources to clear ordnance. This will better ensure safety for production and people living in localities plagued by UXOs and indirectly help the country’s socio-economic development.

The Steering Committee of Programme 504 aims to clear UXOs entirely in the six provinces.

Participants from domestic and foreign agencies and organisations at the workshop deliberated and shared experience in supporting Vietnamese UXO victims.

They said that in order to speed up UXO clearance, Vietnam needs joint efforts from ministries, sectors and the whole of society as well as participation and assistance from international organisations and foreign non-governmental agencies.

Participants also suggested that Vietnam should focus on bettering its legal document system, and improving the capacity of the steering and management agencies and the forces that work to remove bombs and mines, while drawing charts of areas polluted by UXOs and finding ways to help victims there reintegrate into the community.-VNA