Vietnamese Deputy Defense Minister Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh has received pledges from Australian officials that Australia will support Vietnam to overcome the consequences of unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over in Vietnam in wartime.
>> UXOs kill 1,500 Vietnamese every year >> PM calls for int’l support for tackling UXO consequences The pledges were made in the meetings between Vinh and his Australian hosts during his visit to Australia on April 7-12. The deputy minister, who is also head of the permanent office of the State Steering Committee on the National Mine Action Plan, had discussions with Vice Chief of the Defense Force Lieutenant General Mark Binskin, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Gillian Bird, and some key officials from the Ministry for Veterans Affairs. During the meetings, the two sides discussed humanitarian cooperation to help UXO victims in Vietnam reintegrate into community.
During his stay in Australia, the Vietnamese official also paid a courtesy visit to Michael Ronaldson, Minister for Veterans Affairs. Vinh also led the Vietnamese delegation to visit a sapper unit and his entourage also and a centre to support UXO victims’ social reintegration.
Last month, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung called on international donors, including the U.S., to give further assistance to Vietnam in dealing with consequences caused by UXOs in Vietnam. Premier Dung made the appeal at the Development Partnership on Mine Action Conference in Hanoi on March 14. Due to many wars, both the land and people of Vietnam have been heavily affected by a large volume of bombs and mines, many of which are still unexploded, the government leader said.
Currently, over 20 percent of the country’s total land area has been contaminated with UXOs. Explosions of bombs, mines, and other weapons have killed more than 42,000 people and injured about 62,000 others in Vietnam since 1975, according to preliminary statistics.
On average, UXOs annually kill more than 1,500 people and injure nearly 2,300 others, including many children.