Dong Ha City and Trieu Phong District, Quang Tri Province
March 2, 2015
U.S. Department of State Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, Rose Goettemoeller, accompanied with the U.S. Embassy staff and Department of State’s the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA), traveled to Quang Tri Province on 1-2 March to review U.S-funded efforts to survey and clean up unexploded ordnance (UXO).
In her meeting with the provincial leadership, Chairman Nguyen Duc Chinh of Quang Tri Province’s People’s Committee expressed his pleasure to receive the delegation on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of normalized relations. The chairman emphasized that since the normalization the U.S has provided much support to help Vietnam in many fields, particularly the humanitarian mine action.
Under Secretary Goettemoeller went on to tour the Mine Action Visitor, an initiative of Project RENEW in partnership with local government, where she was briefed on the devastation that occurred in Quang Tri Province, and the ongoing efforts by the government, local military and international NGOs to address the problem of UXO.
At the Mine Action Database Unit (DBU), an information hub facility that Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) helped establish in coordination with Department of Foreign Affairs and put into operation in 2012 with funds from WRA, Under Secretary Goettemoeller and the delegation members attended a briefing by NPA and Mines Advisory Group (MAG).
NPA and MAG have worked together to develop a five year work-plan that will see all of Quang Tri Province surveyed and cleared of cluster munitions and other Explosive Remnants of War. Cluster Munitions are the leading cause of UXO accidents in the province since 1975. In Feb 2015, NPA signed an agreement with the provincial government to expand NPA’s Cluster Munitions Remnants of Survey (CMRS) methodology province-wide in order to identify Confirmed Hazardous Areas (CHA) that require full clearance. From early 2014, MAG has been conducting clearance of the CHA generated from NPA/Project RENEW survey in Trieu Phong.
“Implementation of the Cluster Munitions Remnants Survey in the two districts of Quang Tri has enabled us to establish an estimate on the extent of the remaining cluster munition contamination in Quang Tri,” said NPA Country Director Jonathon Guthrie. “Available data suggest that slightly more than 1.2% of Quang Tri Province’s total land area is likely to be contaminated, a dramatic reduction in estimates from previous surveys.”
As part of her visit to Quang Tri Province, Under Secretary Goettemoeller traveled to Trieu Phong District’s Trieu Ai Commune to observe a MAG’s clearance team clearing a CHA in Trang Soi Village and dispose of six cluster munitions located that morning. Under Secretary Goettemoeller was asked to fire the detonation with instructions from MAG team.
Earlier in April 2014, this 55,000-square-meter CHA was identified by one Project RENEW’ CMRS team after surveying 647,500 square meters, they had found and destroyed a total of 21 cluster munitions and three items of UXO during the survey process.
According to Guthrie, the integrated Survey and Clearance project will contribute towards the baseline survey of all nine districts and townships in Quang Tri Province through the CMRS process and the clearance and release of over 55 million m2 of land. “Quang Tri will be a model that can be replicated in other central provinces of Quang Binh or Thua Thien Hue which are plagued with UXO problem.”
Under Secretary Geottemoeller expressed her impression and pledged that the U.S. government will continue providing mine action funding to Vietnam and Quang Tri particularly. “I see a close coordination between NGOs, the government and local military in the work to clean up debris of the war,” she said. “In 2015, we will continue allocating eight million US dollars for Quang Tri to clean up UXO.”