International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action (Apr 4)

Vietnam spends great efforts in overcoming consequences of post-war bombs, mines

Sunday, 2021-04-04 07:52:03
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Vietnamese military engineers pick up a large bomb left over from the war from the riverbed of the Red River, under a pillar of Long Bien Bridge in Hanoi. (Photo: NDO)
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NDO – As a country heavily impacted by wars, Vietnam is still suffering from the heavy consequences of post-war bombs, mines and unexploded ordnances (UXO), and the nation has made various efforts in the clearance and support of bomb and mine victims.

According to statistics, a large number of unexploded bombs, mines and explosives left from the war are still scattered in many places across Vietnam. As of December 2020, the country still has 5,640 million ha of land contaminated with bombs and mines, accounting for 17.1% of the country's total natural land area. Over many years, Vietnam has always made great efforts to clean the areas contaminated with bombs, mines and explosives across the country.

Colonel, Dr. Nguyen Hanh Phuc, Deputy General Director of the Vietnam National Mine Action Centre, said remedial activities and assistance to victims of bombs, mines and toxic chemicals have received much attention and direction from the Party and State. The development of a legal framework to assist mine/UXO survivors is integrated with policies to assist people with disabilities.

In particular, in order to create a legal basis for the organisation and management of post-war mine and UXO recovery activities, on April 21, 2010, the Prime Minister approved the National Action Programme for tackling the impact of post-war bombs and mines (Programme 504). On December 22, 2010, the Prime Minister issued Decision 2338/QĐ-TTg on the establishment of a State Steering Committee on the National Action Programme for Overcoming the Impact of Post-War Bombs and Mines (Steering Committee 504, now Steering Committee 701), headed by the Prime Minister.

Programme 504 has identified specific goals, tasks, solutions and responsibilities of the relevant ministries, branches and localities in post-war bomb and mine recovery. Therefore, post-war landmine/UXO recovery work has witnessed great progress, with the polluted areas having been narrowed down and the number of accidents caused by unexploded bombs, mines and explosives having decreased.

Notably, many policies, regimes and plans to support mine victims have been implemented by the concerned ministries, sectors and localities, such as providing nurture allowances, caring for all critical victims of bombs and mines, admitting victims to social protection establishments, offering them free health insurance cards, providing burial support for family members of mine/UXO survivors, and offering exemptions from tuition fees and school supplies to victims who are students at high school.

Up until now, 100% of communes, wards and towns in the country have identified, classified, ranked and issued cards to people with severe, particularly severe and mild disabilities, including victims of bombs, mines and toxic chemicals. By the end of 2019, nearly three million people with disabilities had been granted certificates of disability, thus benefiting from monthly allowances and receiving houses of gratitude, audio-visual equipment, vocational training and livelihood supports.

However, post-war bomb and mine pollution in Vietnam is still critical, with accidents caused by bombs and mines still occurring frequently, greatly affecting the socio-economic development of the country. Meanwhile, domestic resources are still limited, failing to meet the demand for land clearance with the current level of pollution. Besides these, in the coming years, the country will continue to implement Programme 504 in the context of the world and regional situation still having complicated developments, especially in the diplomatic and trade fields, while donations for bomb and mine recovery in the world have tended to decrease.

Therefore, it is necessary to mobilise and use effectively all domestic and international resources in order to minimise and eventually overcome the impact and consequences of post-war bombs and mines, thereby effectively serving the socio-economic development of the country, ensuring the safety of people's life and activities, and helping mine/UXO survivors integrate into the community. At the same time, it is necessary to ensure the principle of complying with Vietnamese law and international treaties and agreements that Vietnam has signed.

In the near future, it is necessary to perfect mechanisms and policies, while developing programmes and plans, especially plans for the period 021-2025, and submit them to the Prime Minister for approval according to the provisions of Decree 18/2019/NĐ-CP dated February 1, 2019 of the Government and Circular 195/2019/TT-BQP dated December 27, 2019 of the Ministry of Defence.

It is also important to develop and promulgate the Law on Overcoming Consequences of War to perfect the system of legal documents, serving as a basis for the effective management, mobilisation and use of resources for overcoming the consequences of bombs and mines in particular and the consequences of war in general.

It is a must to continue to implement plans, programmes and projects to clear bombs and mines to assist in socio-economic development, with priority given to heavily polluted localities.