PANO – The Standing Office under the State Steering Committee for the National Action Programme on Overcoming the Aftermath of Bombs, Mines and Explosives Left by the War in the 2010-2025 period (Programme 504) held a press briefing and opened the exhibition “Overcoming the aftermath of bombs and mines left by the war for a peaceful life” on the morning of March 25th, at the Military Engineering Museum.
Present at the event were Lieutenant General Nguyen Thanh Tuan, Chief of the Political Education and Information Department, and Chief of the Dissemination Subcommittee of Programme 504; Major General Le Phuc Nguyen, Editor-in-Chief of the People’s Army Newspaper, and Vice Chief of the Dissemination Subcommittee of Programme 504; Major Pham Quang Xuan, Commander of the Military Engineering Corps, and Vice Chief of the Standing Office of Programme 504; along with representatives of Central ministries and agencies, and reporters.
The event also drew Country Director of Norwegian Peoples’ Aid in Vietnam, Jonathan Guthrie, representatives of the US Embassy to Vietnam, international non-governmental organisations in Hanoi, Miss Vietnam 2010 Dang Thi Ngoc Han, local students and local troops.
Addressing the meeting, Major General Le Phuc Nguyen said that since the foundation of Programme 504, the Dissemination Subcommittee had closely coordinated with domestic press and media agencies in holding a large number of public education and information activities, including organizing field trips and meetings with witnesses in localities for reporters to publish reports educating the public of the risks of bombs and mines left by the war and reflecting efforts of military engineering forces to overcome the aftermath of bombs and mines left by the war; issuing several picture books; and providing consultancy to the Standing Office of Programme 504 to organize exchanges to inform and educate the public of the situation.
However, its efforts were not sufficient; as a result, people and international friends still knew little about the noble and humanitarian programme, he acknowledged. In the coming time, the subcommittee would do its job better by diversifying communication products, launching a website to educate the public of the danger of unexploded ordnance and to better inform domestic and international people of the situation of bombs and mines left by the war and efforts to overcome the aftermath, he affirmed.
At the meeting, Major General Le Phuc Nguyen proposed that the press and media actively share experience and closely coordinate with the subcommittee and People’s Army Newspaper to better implement the mission assigned by the Government.
Deputy Chief of the Standing Office of Programme 504 and Commander of the Military Engineering Corps, Major General Pham Quang Xuan briefed press and media members on the results that military engineering forces had obtained over the past period. According to him, in 2012, engineering forces mapped bomb and mine contamination of 49 cities and provinces; set up a system of international standards for bomb and mine pollution; drafted a national action programme for the 2013-2015 period and several projects to support bomb and mine victims to reintegrate in community; and cleared up some 100 ha of land seriously contaminated by bombs and mines in central provinces.
He underlined that as much as 16 million tonnes of bombs, mines and explosives were used in the Vietnam War and according to expert assessments, half of the figure was still unexploded, lying here and there in land across the country. With the current pace of detecting and defusing unexploded ordinance, it would take Vietnam some 300 years to completely overcome the aftermath, he stressed. But, if Programme 504 is realized effectively with more practical support from international community, the time will be reduced to 70-100 years, he said.
As an honourable guest at the meeting, Miss Vietnam Dang Thi Ngoc Han was shocked when she knew the information about the situation of unexploded ordinance and the number of victims. She said that now she could understand the horrible consequences of the war. She promised that she would participate more actively in efforts to educate the public of the danger of unexploded ordnance left by the war and charitable events to raise funds for mine victims across the country. She also called on international organizations and peace-loving people across the world to join Vietnam’s efforts in overcoming the aftermath.
At the meeting, Jonathan Guthrie said that NPA had been joining hands with Vietnam over the past years, providing the country with technical support, funds, equipment, training and fact finding reports on the real situation of bombs and mines left by the war of Thua Thien-Hue and Quang Tri. He said that engineering forces of the Vietnam People’s Army were very active, creative and patriotic; therefore, they were ready to overcome any difficulty and even sacrifice themselves to accomplish their jobs, with a view to bringing safer lives for their people and a better future for their country. He pledged that he and NPA would do more to free Vietnamese people from pain and worry about unexploded ordnance of the war.
According to officials, the Standing Office of Programme 504 will hold a large exchange, with military sappers who work in the most bomb and mine contaminated areas, to be broadcast live on TV and radio via the Voice of Vietnam.
Translated by Thu Nguyen
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