Gio Linh, Quang Tri (May 19, 2022) – “Finding that wartime munition in the bamboo stand just a few meters from my home really shocked me,” said Nguyen Thi Tuyet Nhung, a mother of two residing in Gio Linh Townlet. “I knew that my children and others in the neighborhood might tamper with it so I made an emergency call to the hotline right after I found the munition.”
Just before lunch time on Thursday morning, the all-women emergency response team from RENEW arrived at Ms. Nhung’s home in Block 2 of Gio Linh Townlet. She showed the team the location of the munition. Nhung said she was relieved when team leader Trinh Thi Hong Tham told her that it was an unexploded rifle grenade, which was safe to remove for disposal.
After thanking the team for their quick response, the 35-year-old mother recalled that on a very hot day last May an unknown munition suddenly exploded, causing a small fire at the same bamboo stand. Nhung suggested that RENEW send a clearance team to work here because she believed more explosive ordnance remain scattered in the neighborhood.
Before responding to Ms. Nhung’s callout, the RENEW women team had already collected two other explosive weapons sighted by locals in Gio Linh Townlet.
Following instructions from Mr. Doan Thanh Duong, Head of Block 3 of Gio Linh Townlet, the team had earlier removed a mortar round from the backyard of the communal house. Once the area was made safe, Mr. Duong shook hands with team leader Tham and said that the team’s quick response would help prevent future accidents and injuries to local people, particularly children.
The team’s first response that morning was an emergency call from a man living in Block 6 of Gio Linh Townlet. The team removed an artillery shell from his garden.
All three explosive weapons were later safely destroyed in an open and uninhabited area.
“Locals like Ms. Nhung and Mr. Duong in Gio Linh Townlet are truly the ‘eyes and ears’ of our team,” said team leader Tham. “Thanks to the accurate information they give us about explosive ordnance they discover, our team is able to quickly respond and keep people safe.”
Quang Tri Province people have broad knowledge about explosive ordnance risks. They know how to react when they encounter dangerous war debris in their daily activities: they immediately call the hotline and report their discoveries. According to Quang Tri Mine Action Center (QTMAC), which keeps a database of all bombs found and destroyed, mobile teams managed by RENEW/NPA, Mines Advisory Group, and PeaceTrees Vietnam have conducted 7,589 explosive ordnance disposal tasks in response to emergency callouts to the hotline number during the past five years.
The combination of risk education with survey and clearance operations in Quang Tri Province can be a useful lesson for other provinces where explosive remnants of war still pose a challenge. A comprehensive approach, supported by an extensive funding base, would make Vietnam even safer from the impact of unexploded ordnance in the next decade.
Our thanks go to Friends of Project RENEW for funding the operation of the all-women roving team and Norwegian People’s Aid Vietnam for providing technical support.
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