Located in a close proximity to the Demilitarized Zone, Quang Tri was the most heavily bombed and shelled area of Vietnam during the war. More than 30 years after the war ended, although there have been clearance efforts by the government authorities, the army and international human demining organizations, explosive remnants of war (ERW) and unexploded ordnance (UXO) still remain a lot and scatter all over the province to this day.
In the context of an increasing demand for metal, scrap metal trading is apparently making a huge profit to scrap dealers in the province. Since a higher price is offerred for steel and iron originated from explosive remnants of war (ERW), many people defy risks to collect such ERW for a living. Mixed in the heap of scrap brought in by local scrap collectors for money, apart from old motorbikes, corroded farming equipment, pipe, wires and abandoned household tools, there are small but highly sensitive items of UXO. Scrap dealers have no choice other than sorting out those dangerous items of ordnance and scatter them either in the garden or just on the scrap yard because they don’t have any safe place to keep these UXO items. Hence it is unlikely to avoid the risk of UXO accidents to local children and neigbours.
During the process of implementing its human demining program, based on people’s pressing demand, Project RENEW with technical assistance from Golden West Humanitarian Foundation (GWHF), has launched an safe holding area initiative with the aim of ensuring safety for the people and the very scrap metal dealers.
Undertaken from the beginning of 2008, up to now Safe Holding Areas (SHA) have been provided to 26 scrap yards in two districts of Hai Lang and Trieu Phong and Quang Tri Town. Each of the scrap dealers is supported with an SHA. With the SHA’s, scrap dealers now have a safe place to quarantine deadly hazardous UXO’s from exposure to children and local people until Project RENEW comes to carry out safe disposal.
These SHA’s are monitored by the RENEW Mine Risk Education officer who would visit them on a regular basis to record quantity and type of items in the SHA’s. This information is then forwarded to the RENEW Dems/UXO team to prepare for collection. Under the supervision of GWHF Technical Advisor, Dems/UXO team arrive at targeted SHA and start removing and disposing of collected UXO’s at its central demolition site.
In addition, the scrap dealer is given a free-toll telephone number to ask for urgent treatment in case the number of UXO’s exceeding the bin’s capacity or emergencies. Local people are now getting familiar with this special operation. The safety of their lives, especially children and those living surrounding scrap yards, is ensured thanks to these SHA’s.