US to provide $8mn for UXO removal in central Vietnam

The U.S. will provide US$8 million for the central Vietnamese province of Quang Tri to detect and clear unexploded ordnance (UXOs) left over there since the war before 1975

In this file photo, a little boy sits on a large bomb shell in Tan Hiep Village in the central Vietnamese province of Quang Tri.

This year the U.S. government will grant US$8 million for clearing unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over in the central Vietnamese province of Quang Tri during the war before 1975, a senior American official has said. 

>> An audio version of the story is available here

>> UXOs kill 1,500 Vietnamese every year

Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security for the U.S. State Department, revealed the grant during her working visit to the province on Monday.

At a meeting with leaders of the provincial administration, the under secretary expressed her delight at the outcomes of the cooperation between the U.S. and Vietnam in general and the province in particular in dealing with war consequences.

She told her hosts that in 2015 the U.S. government will provide $8 million for activities to detect and clear UXOs left by the war in the province.

She expressed her hope that Quang Tri and Vietnam in general will no longer suffer from the consequences of UXOs in the future.    

Quang Tri was the first province in Vietnam to be allowed by the Vietnamese government to pilot an international cooperation program to clear UXOs with the PeaceTrees Vietnam Organization in 1996.

The province then cooperated with many other organizations, including MAG, NPA, RENEW, CPI, SODI, and APOPO for the same purpose.

Over the past 20 years, with funding from the U.S. government, non-governmental organizations have helped clear 8,399 hectares of land in Quang Tri and safely removed and destroyed 556,448 UXOs.

Gottemoeller highly valued the ongoing model of overcoming bomb and mine consequences in Quang Tri, saying that it can be applied to other UXO-contaminated areas around the world.

According to statistics announced at the Development Partnership on Mine Action Conference held in Hanoi on March 14, 2014, accidents caused by UXOs left over in Vietnam had killed more than 42,000 people and injured about 62,000 since 1975.

This means UXO-related accidents kill 1,500 people and maim another 2,300 every year.

Addressing the conference, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said over 20 percent of the country’s total land area had been contaminated with UXOs and many accidents related to UXOs had occurred, causing casualties and affecting the use of land, forest and water resources, and the life of people.

Since the war ended in 1975, the Vietnamese government has spent US$80-100 million resolving UXO issues every year and has received support from domestic as well as international organizations.

The premier appealed to international donors, ambassadors of other countries and international friends to continue supporting the Vietnamese government’s efforts to surmount the impact of UXOs.

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