DDG clearance activities and testimonials from VietnamDDG's purpose is not only to clear Explosives Remnants of War (ERW) in Vietnam but also to raise awareness on the same. What is even more fulfilling is hearing the stories from the people that feel safer now and free to use their land for farming and other activities.
It has been one and a half years since DDG started operations in Dai Loc district, one of the areas that has experienced hard times and suffered severe consequences caused by remnants of war.
During the period working there, DDG has helped in identifying, clearing and destroying a large amount of unexploded ordnances remaining on hills, in fields, graveyards or in residential areas of the district.
At the end of 2018, as DDG non-technical survey (NTS) operations in Dai Loc district neared its completion, the NTS team visited again some communes where DDG NTS and clearance teams had carried out their operations. The first place for the visit was the hill slope of Hoa An village, Ai Nghia town, Dai Loc district. This hill slope has been used to plant Cajuput trees. Although it is not a residential area, the neighboring villagers visit it almost every day to take care of their plants.
In June 2018, when the NTS team came to the village to collect information, they were surprised to find many unexploded ordnances scattered all over the hill. The villagers said they all knew that these items were dangerous, however, to make a living, they had to work next to them. Because the hill was not a residential area, the local government did not want to deal with these items. The problem was solved when DDG teams came. During the last visit, they could see that the trees are larger now and the villagers were happy to let the team know that they had not found any more dangerous items and no longer had to be worried when working there.
Exposed unexploaded ordnance in plantation area at Hoa An village, Ai nghia town.
The second place of the visit was Mr. Ho Dau’s house at Phu Phuoc village, Dai Phong commune. In this house, on the first visit six months ago, six unexploded items including a 105mm projectile and five mortars were found in the bamboo bush of his garden. His father used to be a metal collector and brought these kinds of items home to sell for money. Although the father gave up the job, they were not aware of the danger and risk that these ordnances cause. For this reason, these items were kept in their garden. When this case was reported to DDG, it took the team three visits to explain to Mr. Dau’s family the risks and dangers that they could encounter with the items before he agreed to allow DDG to deal with the ordnances. On the recent visit, Mr. Dau shared that he was going to clear the bamboo bush to plant Areca trees and would inform DDG if he found any unexploded items.
Unexploaded ordnances found in garden of Mr. Dau at Phu Phuoc village, Dai phong
Mr. Dau's garden after the ordnances were cleared
DDG’s purpose is not only to help the villagers with the dangerous items but also to raise their awareness.
Another place of the visit was Thuan My village, Dai Phong commune. DDG visited Mr. Pham Van Thanh to assess the results of the clearance operations in the village. Mr Thanh shared that “no more dangerous items have been found since DDG’s clearance activities; about the dangerous area that I reported, the technical team found three projectiles and five 40mm grenades. Now, the government is going to build a low voltage power station here.” So, there will be new construction on this previously contaminated land.
TRUNG HA VILLAGE STORY
During the war, the area surrounding Trung Ha village, Que Hiep Commune, Que Son District, Quang Nam Province used to be a stronghold and a base for the Vietnamese forces. For that reason, the area suffered heavy fighting and massive air bombing including the use of cluster munition targeting ground forces taking shelter inside the thick vegetation.
Today, 50 years after the events most of the area is used as managed forest and as the village cemetery. After every harvesting cycle in the forest, the local population burning the vegetation and can heat many explosions from the burning site. DDG survey team recorded 12 evidence points with exposed (as well as buried) cluster munitions together with ammunition fuses, 40mm grenade and the remains of a M18 Claymore mine.
Remains of M18 Claymore mine
Some of the cluster bombs were found during the construction works that are taking place in the cemetery, building a new temple. Mr. Pham Quan, 55 Years old who lives in the village and works at the temple construction site showed DDG 2 cluster bombs that were found while digging the foundations to the temple and were removed by the workers to a new location 50m away from the building.
Fuze found at Trung H cemetery
Tree next to the temple with cluster munitions in the roots
Some other cluster munitions were reported to be places inside the roots of a tree close to the entrance of the temple. DDG BAC/EOD team destroyed the dangerous ammunition and are conducting battle area clearance (BAC) operation in the site to clear an area of 51,316 square meters. The clearance operation started on July 22nd 2019 and will take about 10 working days (depend on further finding from the worksite).
M38 cluster munitions