At the meeting with UNMAS Director Agnes Marcaillou

The Vietnamese senior defense official is in the US to co-chair the annual Vietnam-US Defense Policy Dialogue 2017.

On the afternoon of October 13 (local time), Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh met with Director of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) Agnes Marcaillou.

General Vinh revealed that the situation of bomb, mine and explosive contamination situation in Vietnam remains complex and serious. All 63 Vietnamese cities and provinces are evidently polluted with bombs, mines and explosives or explosive remnants of war (ERW). According to official statistics, the ERW contamination area makes up 66,000 sq.km. or 20.12% of the country’s area. ERW accidents often occur, causing heavy casualties, delaying construction of projects, polluting the environment, reducing the efficiency of the use and exploitation of land, forest and water resources and causing people to be frequently insecure in their daily life.

Over the past years, the Vietnamese Government has mobilized both domestic and international resources to minimize and overcome the terrible impacts of ERW on socio-economic development, ensure safety for people and support and reintegrate victims of ERW into society.

General Vinh expressed hope that UNMAS would join Vietnam’s efforts to mobilize countries and international organizations to support Vietnam in overcoming the aftermaths of ERW in the country, particularly helping Vietnam draw up a strategic plan on overcoming ERW, mobilize international resources, including considering the adequacy of a unit investment trust on overcoming ERW and improve the capacity for managing information about ERW.

Ms. Marcaillou pledged that UNMAS will support Vietnam in overcoming ERW aftermaths by sending experts to the country to work closely with relevant Vietnamese agencies and units, proving knowledge and experience in crafting a strategy to deal with ERW. She also said that UNMAS will share experience with Vietnam in UN peacekeeping operations, such as giving necessary information to the country before the deployment of forces to the field, providing necessary equipment, devices and means for Vietnam’s peacekeepers to conduct unexploded ordnance clearance in the target countries.

General Vinh (R) and UN Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix

On the same day, Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh had a meeting with UN Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix at the UN headquarters. General Vinh said that Vietnam is very interested in UN peacekeeping operations and is actively participating in several UN peacekeeping missions.

Over the past few years, Vietnam has dispatched its officers to work at UN peacekeeping missions. In the coming time, Vietnam will hopefully deploy a level-2 field hospital and a engineer unit to UN peacekeeping missions under the UN requests.

Vietnam is now building training facilities at the Vietnam Peacekeeping Center in the hope of turning it into a regional-level UN peace keeping training center.

General Vinh briefed the UN senior official on the results of the earlier meeting with Ms. Agnes Marcaillou, saying that Vietnam has completed the ERW-contaminated map and will be made public soon. At this point, Vietnam has merged all efforts into the National Steering Committee on overcoming the aftermath of war and attached its ERW clearance operations with the implementation of the UN Development Goals.

General Vinh stressed that the Agent Orange/Dioxin issue is the concern of not only Vietnam, but also on the global scale as the world is facing a huge amount of hard-to-be-disposed-of wastes.

General Vinh also wished the UN to continue its support for Vietnam in participating in UN peacekeeping operations, overcoming ERW aftermaths and dealing with the Agent Orange/Dioxin issues.

UN Under-Secretary General Jean-Pierre Lacroix affirmed that the UN will continue to back Vietnam in participating in UN peacekeeping operations, overcoming ERW aftermaths and dealing with the Agent Orange/Dioxin issues.

General Vinh (R) meeting with UNDP Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Haoliang Xu

After the meeting, Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh met with UNDP Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific Haoliang Xu at the UNDP Headquarters.

General Vinh reiterated the serious consequences of war that the Vietnamese people have been suffering over the past years, saying that the consequences of war have not only brought pains to Vietnamese people, but also obstructed Vietnam’s socio-economic development. He said, Quang Tri province has an area of 23,000ha but only a mere 1,000ha in the middle is free of ERW. The province’s remaining ERW-contaminated area is so large that it has barred Quang Tri's efforts from boosting local socio-economic development. General Vinh hoped that the UN in general and UNDP in particular would render more support to Vietnam in seeking resources to overcome the consequences of war in the country, contributing to fulfilling the UN Development Goals.

As an official with practical experience in ERW along the borderline between Iran and Iraq, and in Laos, Mr. Xu said that he well understood Vietnam’s difficulties in dealing with the consequences of war. Nevertheless, he said he was very impressed with Vietnam’s recent socio-economic development achievements. He also thanked Vietnam as it was one of the eight first countries supporting the One UN model and affirmed that UNDP will continue providing support for the process of dealing with ERW in Vietnam and continue to support the country’s efforts and desires to participate in UN peacekeeping operations.

Reported by Van Yen from New York, the US

Translated by Thu Nguyen