Hanoi (24 January 2002) - Today UNICEF Viet Nam announced the launch of a new programme to reduce the nation-wide prevalence of casualties from bombs, landmines and other unexploded ordnance (UXO).
Viet Nam is one of the most heavily bombed countries in the history of the world. With an estimated 350,000 plus tonnes of unexploded ordnance and some 3.5 million landmines still scattered across the country, these remnants of past wars continue to kill and maim dozens and possibly even hundreds of Vietnamese children every year, and deprive countless families of access to land and water resources.
"UNICEF is concerned about the toll these remnants of past wars continue to wage on the children of Viet Nam," said new UNICEF Representative Anthony Bloomberg. "We are committed to helping protect these children from this hazard, and to creating opportunities for children who fall victim to UXO or mines to overcome the challenges they face."
UNICEF's new programme will aim to reduce UXO/mine related casualties among children and others through a variety of communication, education and health activities. The programme will complement the ongoing work of various government agencies and international NGOs already working in this area.
One significant component of UNICEF's programme will be supporting the production and airing of television and radio spots in heavily effected provinces, which will rapidly providing large numbers of children and adults with basic safety information about UXO and mines. UNICEF will also support peer education activities for children and youth, and expand inclusive education activities to provide additional opportunities for disabled children to attend school.
Due to the limited amount data on the current UXO/mine problem, there is still no comprehensive understanding of the full toll these war remnants continue to take on Vietnamese families. This in turn makes it much more difficult to formulate effective programmes targeting vulnerable communities. Accordingly, UNICEF will also provide support for the enhancement of data collection mechanisms related to the UXO/mine problem.
The United Nations General Assembly has designated UNICEF as the lead UN agency for UXO and mine risk education and awareness. UNICEF also advocates for the ratification of the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction. While the majority of Southeast Asian nations, including Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Cambodia have signed the treaty, Viet Nam, along with fellow ASEAN members Laos, Myanmar and Singapore, has not yet signed.
Among the international NGOs already working to address various aspects of the UXO/mine problem are the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund, Asia Landmine Solutions, Peace Trees Vietnam, Clear Path International, Catholic Relief Services, Mines Advisory Group, SODI, Potsdam and the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, as well as and the explosive ordnance clearance organisations UXB International and GERBERA.
For further information, please contact:
Assistant Communication Officer
(844) 935-0028 x248