Quang Tri Aims to Become First Province to Be Safe from UXOs

The central province of Quang Tri is striving to, by 2025, become the first province in Vietnam to be safe from unexploded ordnances (UXO) left over by the war. The locality has, starting from 1995, had success in the mobilization of aid from international and non-governmental organizations to deal with the deadly legacy of war. It is the most polluted locality in terms of UXOs which are scattered over 81% of its land area, and have killed over 3,430 people and injured 5,100 so far during peace-time. Over the last 26 years, it has mobilized nearly $144 million from international and non-governmental organizations to help it mark off more than 446 million sq.m of land contaminated with cluster bombs and treat around 86 million sq.m of this kind of land. Over 740,700 bombs, mines and other ordnances have been found and detonated, while tens of thousands of locals have received support in livelihoods. 2018 was the first year Quang Tri reported no accidents from bombs and mines. Since 1995, US non-governmental organizations have assisted Quang Tri in seeking resources for the implementation of relevant programs and projects, and helped bomb and mine victims with tens of millions of U.S. dollars. The U.S.’s Peace Trees Vietnam is the first foreign non-governmental organization licensed by the Vietnamese Government to operate in UXO search and clearance. Thanks to the support from U.S. non-governmental organizations, Quang Tri has detoxified some 187 million sq.m of land and deactivated hundreds of thousands of shells. Assistance has also come for the training of technicians of international standard, the application of cutting-edge technologies in bomb and mine clearance, and the creation of jobs for nearly 900 local people. RENEW is a cooperative program between Quang Tri and foreign NGOs to restore the environment and address the consequences of war, especially UXOs. The main foreign partner in the program now is the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA). Quang Tri aims to clear about 3,000 ha of contaminated land and mobilize $10 million each year for the task during the 2021-2025 period, and announce dangerous areas to the public. Also each year, up to 60,000 people can access education programs on bombs and mines, and 1,300-1,500 victims and their families are expected to receive support in healthcare and livelihood development. By 2025, all local schools will include bomb and mine education in their curricular. Quang Tri is set to develop its provincial bomb and mine action center into a regional one with multiple activities, said Nguyen Trieu Thuong, Director of the provincial Department of External Affairs and deputy head of the standing board of the provincial steering committee for the settlement of UXO. (Vietnam Plus)