VVMF AND PEACETREES PARTNER TO REMOVE UNEXPLODED ORDNANCE IN QUANG BINH PROVINCE OF VIETNAM
|For Immediate Release
November 29, 2010
|Contact: Lisa Gough
(202) 393-0090, ext. 109
Washington, D.C. – The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) has partnered with PeaceTrees Vietnam to establish and fund an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team in Quang Binh Province, Vietnam, announced Jan C. Scruggs, founder and president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
VVMF has been active in the removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Vietnam for 10 years through its international humanitarian arm, Project RENEW. Up until now, its EOD activities were limited to three districts within Quang Tri Province.
“VVMF is proud of the work we have done in Vietnam to remove unexploded ordnance and help improve the lives of the people there,” said Jan C. Scruggs, VVMF president. “We are looking forward to our partnership with PeaceTrees to expand this good work to other provinces in Vietnam.”
PeaceTrees has been engaged in mine action work in Quang Tri Province for the past 15 years. Quang Tri was the site of the former demilitarized zone (DMZ) and the focus of the most bombing activity during the war, which accounts for the high number of unexploded ordnance within its borders.
“We are delighted to partner with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund to help the people of Quang Binh Province,” said Blair B. Burroughs, executive director of PeaceTrees Vietnam. “This is the first time that PeaceTrees has expanded its work beyond Quang Tri Province, and these funds will allow us to address the risk of injury and help alleviate the burden of living with UXO for the people of Quang Binh Province.”
Quang Binh Province is the second most heavily impacted province in Vietnam, with 28 percent of its land mass designated as bomb/mine areas—which means the land is potentially dangerous. Approximately 855,000 people live in the province.
Along with Quang Tri, Quang Binh Province has the highest number of UXO-related accident victims. There have been 5,847 since 1975, with 2,938 killed and 2,909 injured. In just the last five years, 143 people have been killed in UXO accidents in Quang Binh and 122 have been injured.
These statistics are not surprising, when one considers that 924,500 pieces of ordnance are estimated to have been deployed in Quang Binh Province during the war. Most accidents occur when local citizens come across the ordnance while collecting scrap metal or when they encounter UXO during normal farming or herding activities.
The partnership between VVMF and PeaceTrees will take place over the next year, with VVMF pledging more than $280,000 to fund EOD teams that will be assembled and supervised by PeaceTrees. VVMF is using funding provided by Congress for this project.
The Quang Binh EOD project will be VVMF’s final task in Vietnam. “VVMF remains proud of our work in helping the U.S. government establish better relations with this nation of 80 million people,” said Scruggs. “We have made tremendous strides in improving the everyday lives of the people in Vietnam and have strengthened relations between our two countries through our efforts.”
Project RENEW began 10 years ago as a humanitarian project in Quang Tri Province. VVMF raised funds from private sources and the State Department to assist in the removal of landmines and other unexploded ordnance and to reduce casualties by educating the public. Both objectives were highly successful, and VVMF trained and equipped the Vietnamese to continue the efforts, destroying thousands of bombs, mortar shells, mines and other dangerous devices. Through Project RENEW, VVMF also created income generation opportunities for landmine victims and their families, and provided medical assistance and orthotic and prosthetic devices to landmine survivors. Through private donors, VVMF also facilitated the construction of schools, cultural centers, libraries and even a baseball field in Quang Tri Province.
Founded in 1995, PeaceTrees Vietnam, based in Seattle, Wash., is a humanitarian organization dedicated to healing communities affected by war. Its vision is to create a safe and healthy future for the children and families of Central Vietnam through demining, mine risk education, survivor assistance, citizen diplomacy trips and community building projects.
Established in 1979, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., promoting healing and educating about the impact of the Vietnam War. Authorized by Congress, its most recent initiative is building The Education Center at The Wall, an underground facility near the Memorial that is designed to help visitors discover the stories of those named on The Wall and celebrate the values embodied by all service members who served in all of America’s wars. Other Memorial Fund initiatives include educational programs for students and teachers, a traveling Wall replica that honors our nation’s veterans and a humanitarian and mine-action program in Vietnam.