Vietnam may need as long as 300 years to clear all unexploded explosive weapons, collectively called unexploded ordnance (UXOs), left over from wartime, according to a national UXO clearance agency official.
>> Boy loses 4 limbs, 2 others injured by UXO Pham Quang Xuan, deputy head of the Steering Committee for the National Action Program on Settling Consequences of UXOs, made the statement at a press briefing on a conference of international donors for UXOs in Vietnam that will be held in the country in mid-March. About 800,000 tonnes of bombs, mines, and other explosive weapons were left over and buried in Vietnam after its resistance war against American invaders from 1954 to 1975, Xuan said. In the past years, only 3.26 percent of the country’s total areas contaminated with UXOs were cleared. All 63 provinces and cities in the country have been contaminated with UXOs, but the clearance has only been carried out in some northern provinces such as Ha Giang and Lang Son and six central provinces including Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Quang Ngai, Xuan said. The aforesaid steering committee has set a target of clearing all UXOs in these six provinces in the next five years. To fulfill the target, besides mobilizing domestic resources, the Vietnamese government has been calling for contribution and assistance from foreign non-governmental agencies and international organizations.100,000 casualties Since 1975, explosions of bombs, mines, and other weapons have killed more than 40,000 people and injured about 60,000 others in Vietnam, according to preliminary statistics, said Xuan, the deputy head. UXOs have not only posed risks of death or injury, but also seriously affected the country’s socio-economic development, as Vietnam has to spend thousands of billions of dong (VND1 billion = US$47,170) each year on UXO clearance and supporting victims of UXOs. Over the past 20 years, many international donors have supported Vietnam’s efforts to clear UXOs with a total contribution of $10-15 million every year, Don Tuan Phong, Vice President of the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations, was quoted by VietNamNet as saying.