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300 Years to Clean up 800,000 Tons of Unexploded Ordinance in Vietnam: Official

At a conference on unexploded ordnance in Vietnam, an official announced that it may take up to 300 years to clear the country of the deadly war remnants that are still inflicting casualties to this day.

Tuoi Tre reports that Pham Quang Xuan, deputy head of the Steering Committee for the National Action Program on Settling Consequences of UXOs made the statement in a briefing ahead of a conference of international donors set for later this month.

Xuan said that 800,000 tons of bombs, mines, and other explosive weapons are buried across Vietnam, many of which were dropped by US bombers during the American War, only 3.26% of which have been cleared since clean-up began decades ago.

He added that 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.” 

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To fulfill the target of clearing all UXOs in these six provinces in the next five years, the Vietnamese government has called for assistance from foreign NGOs and international organizations. Since 1994, Vietnam has received $10 - $15 million per year from international donors to fund clearance programs.

Since the war ended in 1975, UXOs have killed more than 40,000 people and injured 60,000, stated Xuan.

In addition to posing personal injury risks, UXOs have 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.”

Along with Agent Orange, it seems that UXOs will prove to be the longest lasting legacies of the American War.


[Tuoi Tre // Photo via DFAT photo library]