In partnership with Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), a global leading humanitarian disarmament and mine action organization, RENEW is leading a massive program to eliminate cluster bombs and other explosive ordnance (EO) remaining from the Vietnam war in Quang Tri and neighboring provinces in central Vietnam. This area was the most heavily bombed and fought over during the war and remains the most contaminated area in the country, with cluster bombs, grenades, bombs and shells being found on a daily basis. Many of these deadly relics are hidden just beneath the surface in school yards, gardens, rice paddies and near houses. Children and farmers are particularly at risk. Since 1975 over 8,500 local people, of which 31% were children, have been killed or injured in Quang Tri province alone, a toll which has been reduced to zero in recent years by the combined efforts of RENEW and other mine action operators.
Using local Vietnamese staff and working with international partners, RENEW has found and safely destroyed over 105,000 cluster bombs and other deadly explosives since it began clearance work in 2008, and released over 2300 acres of land to the community for development.
Thanks to Mine Action, the risk of deaths and injuries caused by explosive ordnance to local people has been minimized and I take pride in joining this important work.
Tran Hoang Yen
Battle Area Clearance Searcher, Quang Tri
RENEW deploys 19 technical survey, disposal, and clearance teams identifying and mapping confirmed hazardous areas which are then cleared and made safe. Working with other NGOs, RENEW is committed to making Quang Tri province safe from the impact of unexploded ordnance by the end of this decade, which will be an unprecedented achievement in such a difficult and dangerous environment. Because the objective is to make Quang Tri safe, RENEW and other mine action operators are clearing explosive ordinance (EO) to a level deep enough to enable farming and forestry to be carried on safely, rather than seeking to clear every explosive at any depth. In-depth clearance will be carried out for any deeper construction as required. The goal is to reduce EO to a residual problem that can be safely managed, much as it is in Europe. Funding for this effort is principally provided by the U.S. Department of State through RENEW’s longstanding partner NPA as well as other NGOs and governmental sponsors.
RENEW’s survey, disposal and clearance teams are entirely made up of Vietnamese staff trained to International Mine Action Standards (IMAS Level 1, and team leaders at Level 2). For many years, RENEW’s teams have operated independently under Vietnamese management without day-to-day technical assistance, although NPA experts monitor progress and are available to assist as required. All operations are recorded on a state-of-the-art database developed by NPA and Vietnamese colleagues in Quang Tri, which enables real-time reporting and coordination of clearance efforts by all NGOs in the province. Clearance operations are carried out to ensure the safety of all concerned, with the full cooperation of local authorities and villagers on site. Explosive items are often found by people searching rural areas for scrap metal or by scrap metal dealers, so RENEW maintains several collection points where EO can be left for safe disposal. All EO found by RENEW or its partner organizations are either destroyed in place or, after being made safe, transported to a specialized facility for controlled explosion or neutralization.
RENEW’s model of local staffing and training, combined with international funding and close support from local government can easily be replicated elsewhere in Vietnam, and this work has begun in neighboring provinces.