Trieu Phong, Quang Tri (12 September 2018) — For four decades, Trieu Hoa Commune residents have lived anxiously with cluster munitions remained in their rice fields. The lingering fear is now over.
On Wednesday, Mr. Phan Hiep was tending his cows in the rice fields of Ha My Village when he was asked by the NPA-RENEW EOD team members to drive his herd away. The mobile team was preparing to detonate four cluster munitions which had been earlier found by two Technical Survey teams operating in Ha My Village. The technical surveyors had just located these deadly weapons below the surface of a rice field where people must have farmed for many years.
Before the lunch break, the EOD team finished their demolition task, safely destroying four cluster munitions in situ, and moved on.
This week NPA-RENEW Technical Survey teams return to Trieu Phong District after local people have harvested their summer crops. Taking advantage of this farm recess, the teams are tasked to define and map out contaminated land that needs cleanup.
The findings have confirmed that Ha My Village was subject to cluster munitions strikes during wartime. Since the war ended, the village has 10 casualties, including three deaths and seven injuries, due to cluster munitions and other explosives.
“We are grateful when the teams find and safely destroy those deadly cluster munitions so that we can work safely,” said Phan Hiep. At age 64, he still loves working and 12 cows provide his family with an annual income of about 20 million VND. The elderly herdsman said that he himself was injured in 1976 when he was leading a team to manually remove unexploded bombs and mines. “I was lucky to be alive, though suffering injuries, when a cluster bomb exploded a few meters away,” Hiep added.
Using evidence of U.S. bombing strike data and previous spot tasks in response to UXO callouts reported by local residents, NPA-RENEW will define Confirmed Hazardous Areas for clearance teams from Mines Advisory Group (MAG) to clean up. This joint effort is part of the Integrated Survey and Clearance project initiated in 2015 with the funding of the U.S. government and implemented by NPA-RENEW, MAG, and PeaceTrees Vietnam in the entire Quang Tri Province.
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 Department of Foreign Affairs.
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.
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.