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Jan 09, 2021 / 17:11

Vietnam to clear 800,000 ha of bombs and mines by 2025

Vietnam spent US$549 million on unexploded ordnance settlement in 2010-20. Nearly one fifth of the investment comes from international non-refundable aid.

Deputy Minister of National Defence Nguyen Chi Vinh urged relevant agencies to continue researches and application of technologies in settling unexploded ordnance (UXO) to reach the clearance area of 800,000 ha by 2025.

Sen. Lt. Gen Vinh was speaking at a meeting held in Hanoi on January 8.

Soldiers in protective gear search for unexploded ordnance in the central province of Quang Tri. Photo: Trọng Đức

He said between 2010 and 2020, the total clearance area is estimated to reach more than 500,000 ha, including over 400,000 ha conducted by the Ministry of National Defence and the remaining by international organizations.

In the last decade, the settlement of UXOs and dioxin has been reported at Danang Airport in the central city of Danang, Phu Cat Airport in the central province of Binh Dinh, Bien Hoa Airport in the southern province of Dong Nai, and Aso Airport in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue.

Vietnam has spent approximately VND12.6 trillion (US$549 million) on bomb and mine clearance in the past decade starting in 2010.

The total amount includes VND9 trillion (US$391 million) from development and investment projects, VND1.42 trillion (US$62 million) from the national action plan against post-war legacy, and VND2.2 trillion (US$96 million) from international non-refundable aid.

The Standing Board of the National Steering Committee on the Settlement of Post-War Unexploded Ordnance and Toxic Chemical Consequences (Steering Committee 701) has taken responsibility for handling 260 tons of o-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile (CS), zoning affected areas, and mapping places of residues.

 Sen. Lt. Gen Nguyen Chi Vinh, deputy defense minister, at the meeting. Photo: Quandoinhandan

Mr. Vinh requested the authorized forces to continue conducting dioxin cleanup and reporting chemical residues in war-affected zones, and monitoring post-settlement sites.

He also asked the relevant agencies under the Ministry of National Defence to continue working for legitimate rights of Agent Orange/dioxin victims.

So far, Vietnam has roughly 163,000 war-related people contaminated with chemical toxins and more than 73,000 others who are their children, who are beneficiaries of monthly allowance and health insurance, local media reported.

UXO was scattered over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia by U.S. bombers in the Vietnam War, at three times the volume of ordnance dropped in World War II, according to Project Renew, a non-governmental organization located in Quang Tri province, Vietnam.

In June 2019, staff at the US Congressional Research Service (a department within the Library of Congress) sent legislators an analysis of the US$400 million the US has spent on UXO clearance in Southeast Asia, VOA reported.

It said cleanup will probably involve several more decades and probably casualties. These human and dollar costs, as well as the long time that war legacies have lasted, are factors for legislators to consider, the report said.