Trieu Phong, Quang Tri (16 August 2018) — As part of her working trip to Vietnam, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Andrea L. Thompson traveled to Quang Tri Province today to visit ongoing U.S.-funded efforts to survey and clear unexploded ordnance.
Accompanied by Quang Tri Department of Foreign Affairs (DOFA) officials, Under Secretary Thompson and delegates from the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Embassy in Vietnam traveled to Thuong Phuoc Village of Trieu Thuong Commune. Upon arrival, the delegation was briefed on the Integrated Survey and Clearance Project implemented by Norwegian People’s Aid – Project RENEW (NPA-RENEW) and Mines Advisory Group (MAG) with the aim of releasing safe land for the community.
Located along the Thach Han River and adjacent to the Old Citadel, Thuong Phuoc Village was under heavy air strikes between 1968-1972 because it was the site of a 130 mm artillery unit of the North Vietnamese Army. After 1975, local people upon return to their home village had encountered a lot of unexploded ordnance while reclaiming land for rebuilding homes and farming.
Since the war ended, the village has sustained 23 accidents mainly caused by cluster munitions and 40 mm grenades with 14 people killed and nine others injured. In March 2018, NPA-RENEW Technical Survey teams completed defining a Confirmed Hazardous Area (CHA) consisting of 528,932 m2 that needed clearance. This CHA is now being cleared by MAG teams.
Under Secretary and delegates also met with two villagers, Le Van Trien and Le Van Son, who represent 190 families residing here since 1975. Trien lost his left leg because of a UXO accident in 2001 when he was farming on a hill near his home. In the years right after the war ended, Soan joined with the local guerrilla forces to manually demine, using a simple bamboo stick to probe unexploded ordnance. Both men told Under Secretary Thompson that they now feel happy to see professional mine action teams work in the village.
NPA Survey & Clearance Program implemented at Project RENEW is funded by the U.S. Department of State and a cooperation project between NPA and Quang Tri Province DOFA.
Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) is one of the leading organizations worldwide in humanitarian disarmament. NPA has worked in Vietnam since 2008 following the signing of an MOU with the government of Quang Tri People’s Committee to support the development of Project RENEW’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) capacity. NPA’s operational footprint now covers all of Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue Provinces, with an increase of assets to two Battle Area Clearance teams, one Non-Technical Survey team, four EOD teams, and 21 Technical Survey teams.
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” – with the main focus on unexploded ordinance.