|Nghiem Dinh Thien, vice director of the Vietnam Bomb and Mine Clearance Action Centre
At a press conference on March 31 in Hanoi, Mr Thien said there are still around 800,000 tons of UXOs left over from the US war, contaminating 20% of the country’s total land mass.
Since 1975, mines and UXO have killed more than 40,000 people and injured some 60,000 others, exacerbating poverty, restricting land use and hindering the nation’s economic development.
The largest bulk of the population live in rural areas who depend on the land for their survival. Malnutrition remains widespread and many rural inhabitants are often unable to secure enough food for themselves or their families.
The presence of landmines, cluster munitions and other items of UXO compounds this issue, as they trap people in poverty by restricting access to productive land and limiting investment in key infrastructure.
Mr Thien said to remove residual items of UXO that are scattered across the country the State Steering Committee on the National Action Program on Settling Consequences of UXOs and Ho Chi Minh Youth Union have joined forces.
Under a joint partnering program, they will help remove residual items of UXO that are scattered across the parts of the country that continue to pose a threat to men, women and children and teach them how to best prevent UXO accidents.
Mr Thien said they will employ a range of operational tools and methods to tackle these challenges while supporting victims of UXOs to better integrate into society so they can live a full, productive and rewarding life.
He said the partners will also work closely with communities, development partners and national and provincial authorities to obtain a better understanding of the total remaining contamination and work towards the mutual goal of realizing a mine-free Vietnam.