DNA facilities to help name soldiers

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has approved the establishment of two DNA testing facilities.

One of their jobs will be to help identify the remains of Vietnamese soldiers.

The Ministry of Public Security will build one VND285 billion (US$13.4 million) centre and the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology will build another for VND229 billion (US$10.7 million).

Deputy head of the Department of National Devotees under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Dao Ngoc Loi, said the centres would help speed up the identification of soldiers who died during the two resistance wars against French and US forces as well as in international missions in Laos and Cambodia.

Thousands of the fallen are still unaccounted for, which has prompted Vietnam to try and identify the remains of 10,000 in 2015 and 80,000 by 2020.

Loi said that at present, there were three centres that could carry out DNA tests - the Military Institute of Forensic Medicine, the Institute of Biological Technology and the Institute of Biochemical and Professional Documents.

He added that so far, the labour ministry had worked with all three centres and reached consensus on technologies, categories and equipment.

Since 2011, more than 8,000 samples have been collected, but only 2,331 identified. Last year, only 285 samples were identified.

"The identification process meets many difficulties because the remains have been buried for about 30 to 40 years, which lowers the quality of the DNA," Loi said.

"Besides, out-of-date facilities and equipment have also affected much the identification process," he said.

Loi said that this year, the labour ministry would release a manual on procedures to identify information and complete a database on soldiers, relatives, graves and cemeteries.