Australia assists landmine victims in Vietnam and Laos

Media release

Vietnam

13 April 2011

Australian assistance will provide rehabilitation services and improve the quality of life for thousands of people injured by landmines in Vietnam and Laos.

During a visit to the Ho Chi Minh City Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Centre, Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd announced $4 million over four years for the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Special Fund for the Disabled in Vietnam and other mine affected countries.

“Vietnam is one of the most mine contaminated countries in the region with an estimated 100,000 mine survivors. Over 20 per cent of the country is estimated to contain some 800,000 tonnes of explosive remnants of war which continue to kill and maim scores of Vietnamese every year.

“This new investment in the ICRC Special Fund for the Disabled will help centres such as this assist more men and women with prostheses and rehabilitation, giving them the opportunity to work to support their families and fully participate in their communities,” Mr Rudd said.

“It builds on more than $5 million Australia has invested in ICRC’s work in Vietnam and other mine affected countries since 2006, which has provided rehabilitation services to over 17,000 people.”

Australia will also invest $2.5 million through the Convention on Cluster Munitions Trust Fund of Lao PDR. This will assist the Lao government clear unexploded ordnance from heavily contaminated land — a legacy of the two million tons of ordnance dropped on the country during the Indochina conflict.

“This Australian support will mean that thousands more families will be able to farm on cleared land and hundreds of boys and girls can walk safely to school without the risk of terrible injury or death,” Mr Rudd said.

Since 2006, Australia has helped clear unexploded devices from more than five million square metres of Laos, benefitting over 17,000 people living in contaminated provinces and providing access to rehabilitation services for over 12,000 vulnerable people.

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