Dong Ha, Quang Tri Province (21 August 2014)
The signing of a cooperation agreement between Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) and the government of Quang Tri Province today was a benchmark in the joint efforts to help the province address the consequences of cluster bombs and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) left over from the war that ended nearly 40 years ago.
Standing Vice Chairman Nguyen Duc Chinh of Quang Tri Province People’s Committee and NPA Country Director Jonathon Guthrie signed the agreement under the witness of nearly 200 delegates from central ministries and international organizations who were attending the Conference on International NGO Aid Promotion for the period of 2014-2017.
NPA was established in 1939 and is one of the world’s leading organizations in the field of humanitarian disarmament. Currently operational in 22 countries around the world, NPA manages approximately 300 projects on mine action, arms management and destruction, and humanitarian disarmament initiatives. NPA has worked in Vietnam since 2008 providing support to develop Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) capacity for Quang Tri Province through Project RENEW. Since then, NPA’s operational footprint has expanded and now covers all of Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue Provinces, with an increase of assets to four EOD teams, six Non-Technical Survey pairs, and seven Cluster Munitions Remnants Survey (CMRS) teams.
With the signing of this agreement, NPA becomes the first international NGO operational in the whole Quang Tri Province, providing support for Project RENEW’s major pillars of mine action including Survey, Clearance and EOD, Mine Risk Education and Victim Assistance.
According to Jonathon Guthrie, apart from assisting in building capacity of the provincial authorities, NPA will implement international best practices for the overcoming the consequences of war of the Quang Tri Province. Specifically, the effort will expand NPA’s approach to land release known as Cluster Munitions Remnants Survey (CMRS) province-wide in order to identify and confirm contaminated areas of land that need full clearance.
“The objective is to place full clearance assets where they are most needed and MAG has already begun clearing confirmed hazardous areas generated from NPA’s survey in Trieu Phong District,” said Jonathon Guthrie.
With support from NPA, Project RENEW teams since 2008 have safely removed and destroyed 20,000 items of cluster bombs and other ordnance, and released 860,000 square meters of safe land for development projects.
Forty years on Quang Tri Province remains heavily impacted by ERW which have killed or injured more than 8,500 people. Through Project RENEW, NPA urges that survey and clearance of hazardous areas be a top priority at the national, provincial and district levels. With such a priority, and a correct allocation of resources, survey and subsequent clearance of hazardous areas identified could be achieved in five years.
According to Jonathon Guthrie, “NPA will work with provincial authorities, INGOs and other stakeholders to promote collective action, and proactive survey and clearance, toward making Quang Tri Province safe, with an end state in sight, not decades from now, but a matter of years”.
Project RENEW was established in 2001 as a joint effort between the government of Quang Tri Province and interested INGOs to “restore the environment and neutralize the effects of the war”.