Today: 26/09/2023 18:33:04 (GMT+7)

Mine Action Cannot Wait - Stronger partnerships key to end deadly legacy of war

In the run up to a Regional Conference on Mine Action for Sustainable Peace and Development (March 29-30, 2023), Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) Country Director Cho Han-Deog and UNDP Resident Representative Ramla Khalidi offer their perspectives.

Generations of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Lao have lived in fear that their next step could be their last.

Most of the 7.5 million tonnes of ordnance dropped during the conflict in the 1960s and 70s fell on Vietnam. Half a century on from the signing of the Paris Peace Accords, a fifth of the country remains contaminated. Living next to minefields and contamination has internalised terror. 

Mine Action Cannot Wait,  Stronger partnerships, deadly legacy of war, Sustainable Peace and Development, Korea International Cooperation Agency

Founded in August 2018, MAT 19 is the name of the only all-female UXO clearance team among the 40 teams deployed by the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) in Quang Tri province. They perform their tasks by using specialised equiment.

“I found a mine at my backyard when I was gardening in 2009. The anxiety of landmines has always been with me,” said Y Quyet, a woman living in the central Quang Binh province.

Over the past three decades, the UNDP has worked on mine action in over 50 countries. KOICA has supported mine action in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia as part of the Mekong Peace Community Programme. Unexploded ordnance not only threatens lives, but contamination also curtails the opportunity to farm and make a living, to prosper in peace and security. As Oscar-winner and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Michelle Yeoh said at a Security Council meeting on Mine Action in 2021, “Mine action is linked to the Sustainable Development Goals, and it is important to look at the issue beyond square meters cleared.”

The Government of Vietnam has pledged to end further accidents due to mines and unexploded ordnance by 2025. KOICA and the UNDP are committed to supporting the government in realising this goal. This means bringing an end to losing lives and limbs to this deadly legacy of war and to release contaminated land for development and productive use. In partnership with the Ministry of National Defense, KOICA and the UNDP strengthen institutions to tackle the challenges posed by landmines, providing explosive ordnance risk education, data management, victim assistance, and undertaking clearance operations.

In three years, the project has surveyed 17,000 hectares of land, equivalent to 20,000 football fields, and cleared 10,000 contaminated hectares. Meanwhile, 450,000 local people, especially children, have received education on the risk of unexploded ordnance. KOICA and the UNDP will continue supporting Mine Action, for instance supporting 10,500 farmers to apply smart-climate and resilient agriculture and upgrading or building 50 health stations.

People like Y Quyet can only imagine a life without fear and a chance to develop the land so that their children can prosper. Every day they wait for mine action teams to undertake the painstaking progress of clearing the land acre by acre.

Mine Action Cannot Wait,  Stronger partnerships, deadly legacy of war, Sustainable Peace and Development, Korea International Cooperation Agency

Sappers of the Defence Ministry's Corporation 319 bring an unexploded bomb to an area for UXO in Binh Dong commune of Binh Son district, Quang Ngai province.

On April 4, we mark the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action with the message that mine action cannot wait. To accelerate progress, we must enhance regional and international cooperation to share ideas and technologies that can lead to concrete and long-lasting results on the grounds.

In Cambodia, the government has started to use drones to detect landmines. In Vietnam, an online registry and information management system for people with disabilities and unexploded ordnance survivors has been used to conduct an assessment in the country’s most contaminated provinces of Quang Binh and Binh Dinh.

Our vision is a world free from the threat of landmines and unexploded ordnance. It is important that countries collaborate to spur innovation in the region to end the deadly legacy of unexploded ordnance. There is still much work to do to reduce risk and build a better future for mine-affected communities.

Bombs with detonators intact found in central Vietnam
A family in central Nghe An Province found three unexploded bombs 20 meters apart while they were digging the ground to build their home.
350 kg bomb from Indochina War found in northern school
The army safely removed an unexploded bomb left from the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in the 1950s from a boarding school in the northern Dien Bien Province.
227-kg Vietnam War bomb destroyed
A total 100 families were evacuated as a bomb carrying 80 kilograms of explosives from the Vietnam War was destroyed in the central Quang Tri Province last weekend.
225-kg bomb found just below ground in central Vietnam
A bomb weighing 225 kg was found a mere half meter below ground in Nghe An Province in the central region.
Two 340-kg bombs found meters away from central Vietnam highway
Two M117 bombs, each weighing 340 kilograms, were found just 270 meters from a highway in central Vietnam’s Quang Tri Province.

Source: VNA

Mine Action Cannot Wait, Stronger partnerships, deadly legacy of war, Sustainable Peace and Development, Korea International Cooperation Agency
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