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Vietnam Still Has 800,000 Tons of Unexploded Ordnance, Labor Ministry Says

Explosive remnants from the Second Indochina War continue to haunt livelihoods.

The number was brought up during a conference on disabilities and unexploded ordnance (UXO) held in Quang Binh and Binh Dinh provinces by the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs on January 7, Dan Tri reports.

The conference pointed out that 45 years after the war ended in 1975, there are still approximately 800,000 tons of landmines and UXO buried beneath 6.13 million hectares of land, which make up 18.82% of the country's land area. Vietnam is also one of the world's most contaminated countries in terms of UXO.

While these explosive remnants are spread across 63 provinces, the central region and provinces along the northern border have the heaviest concentrations of UXO. According to a 2010 news report, in six central provinces, including Nghe An, Quang Binh, Ha Tinh, Quang Tri, Quang Ngai and Thua Thien-Hue, UXO had killed 10,529 people and injured 12,231 more since the end of the conflict.

Since 1975, UXO has killed 40,000 and injured 60,000 people nationwide, most of them the main supporters of their family, Dan Tri reports. According to ministry official Tran Canh Tung, recent data shows that in Quang Binh and Binh Dinh alone, there are 75,000 disabled people, 94% of whom are victims of UXO and are unable to work. 

Tung said that there should be more local initiative to support UXO victims in several aspects, including access to health services, social rehabilitation and livelihood support.

[Photo: An unexploded ordnance on display in North Darfur/Photo by Albert González Farran via Flickr account UNAMID]