Gio Linh, Quang Tri (July 6, 2022) – Minister of State in the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs Mr. Colm Brophy today travelled to Gio Linh District to meet with hundreds of local schoolchildren attending an Explosive Ordnance risk education session organized by RENEW in collaboration with local Youth Unions.
With companions from Irish Embassy in Vietnam, Minister Colm Brophy has been in Quang Tri Province since Monday on a working trip to review the impact of projects supported by the Government of Ireland.
At Hai Thai Primary School, Minister Brophy and delegation members observed and talked with local children who were excitedly engaged in learning how to behave safely upon encountering unexploded ordnance. Hai Thai Commune is adjacent to the former U.S. military base Con Thien, a site of fierce fighting in 1967-1968. As a result, explosive remnants of war still pose a threat to people’s safety and hinder local development. Since 1975, Hai Thai Commune has recorded 112 deaths and injuries due to explosive ordnance accidents.
Thanks to support from the Government of Ireland, RENEW has been able to continue the explosive ordnance risk education program since 2015, carrying out an awareness outreach that helps reinforce adults’ and children’s knowledge of the danger of unexploded ordnance and equips them with safe behavior guidance when they encounter explosive ordnance. Thanks to these efforts, 881 risk education events have been organized resulting in over 200,000 boys, girls, men and women being exposed to the life-saving messages.
The delegation members also had a chance to see a group of amputees whose stumps were being examined and readied for new prostheses. Over 3,000 persons with disabilities have received free services from the Prosthetics and Orthotics Mobile Outreach Program since 2008. With funding from the Government of Ireland from 2016, RENEW’s P&O Mobile Outreach Program has helped over 1,000 persons with disabilities to restore their mobility and integrate into the community.
On Wednesday afternoon, Minister Brophy toured the Mine Action Visitor Center where he was briefed further on the joint efforts of international mine action organizations and the provincial government to make Quang Tri safe from the impact of unexploded ordnance. Ms. Nguyen Thi Dieu Linh, Manager of the survey and clearance program implemented under partnership between Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) and Project RENEW, updated the Minister and the delegation on the progress that NPA/RENEW teams have made in identification of contaminated areas and implementation of other mine action activities in Quang Tri province, thanks to funding provided by the U.S. Government. As of this month, NPA RENEW has safely destroyed nearly 120,000 items of explosive ordnance through these activities, identifying 528 km2 of contaminated areas of which 27.5% of these dangerous areas has been cleared by NGOs’ clearance teams.
Minister Brophy said that he was pleased to meet with the staff of Project RENEW who have carried out what he called “amazing work” not only in removal of unexploded ordnance but also in the education program as well. “RENEW is a project which not only deals with clearance of unexploded ordnance but has a really good risk education program that helps children understand the danger of bombs and mines,” said Minister Brophy. “Irish Aid has contributed to provide support over the years and we will continue to support this work in the future.”
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