Over 800 Staff of Humanitarian Mine Action Organizations in Quang Tri Vaccinated

Nearly 900 staff members of humanitarian mine action organizations in the central province of Quang Tri got vaccinated for Covid-19.

Staff members of RENEW/NPA wait for their first jab at Vinh Linh District’s vaccination post, on August 11, 2021. Photo by Truong Cong Vinh.

According to a recent report of Quang Tri Department of Foreign Affairs, nearly 900 staff members working for humanitarian mine action operators in Quang Tri Province have been received their first doses of Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca as of August 2021.

Starting in this May, in addition to application of strict measures for fighting the Covid-19 outbreak, Quang Tri Province’s Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control assigned the provincial Department of Health and other relevant agencies to make preparation for conducting vaccination campaigns for different prioritized groups.

Quang Tri Department of Foreign Affairs on July 20 requested the Province’s Committee for Covid-19 to approve a plan to conduct vaccination for national employees and foreign expats who work for foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including Quang Tri Mine Action Center, Project RENEW/Norwegian People’s Aid, PeaceTrees Vietnam, Mines Advisory Group, and Golden West Humanitarian Foundation. The request originated from the practical needs related to the nature of work that these mine action staff members do on a daily basis, including traveling back and forth in at-risks areas such as border zones and highly-populated areas.

Following the approval of Quang Tri Province’s Committee for Covid-19, Quang Tri Department of Foreign Affairs coordinated with the above mine action operators to make plans for vaccination of their corresponding registered staff members.

Earlier August, the vaccination campaigns for the above mine action operators were launched at different district level health centers designated by the Department of Health for 840 staff members and expats working for the above mine action operators.

Before being vaccinated, everybody made medical declarations, was examined, screened and received pre-vaccination counselling by doctors at the sites.

“The prioritization of vaccination of the staff and expats at foreign non-governmental organizations indicates the strong commitment and support of Quang Tri provincial authorities toward humanitarian mine action,” said Nguyen Duc Quang, deputy director of provincial Department of Foreign Affairs.

The vaccination will protect the health of staff and ensure the continuation of survey and clearance operations for the safety of the community.

The Mobile Mine Clearance Team of PeaceTrees Vietnam has successfully handled and transported a MK82 bomb weighing 227kg left from the war in Quang Tri in August 2021. Photo: thanhnien.vn

Large bombs were assessed and cut up rather than destroyed by the more disruptive and dangerous method of detonation by Provincial Military Command EOD team, supported by Golden West Humanitarian Foundation.

According to VnExpress, 55,900 people in Quang Tri Province have been vaccinated with a first dose, accounting for 13.1% of its total population.

With the goal to maximize vaccine coverage, achieve herd immunity and bring life back to normal, the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organizations is working with local authorities to continue to vaccinate NGO staff in over 50 other provinces and cities in Vietnam.

Quang Tri is the most polluted locality in Vietnam in terms of unexploded ordnance (UXO), which are scattered over 81 percent of its land area and have killed over 3,430 people and injured 5,100 during peacetime.

The province has cooperated since 1995 with international organizations such as PeaceTrees Vietnam, the Mines Advisory Group, Clear Path International, and the Norwegian People’s Aid on clearing UXO.

Quang Tri also has built a mine action program for the period 2020 - 2025 and is determined to implement it towards the goal of being the first province in the country to be mine-safe by 2025.

For nearly three years, since 2018, thanks to joint efforts of mine action organizations to survey and clear EO, Quang Tri Province has had zero accidents – a record since the war ended in 1975. Notwithstanding, it is important for the communities to be constantly reminded of the lingering threat of EO while survey and clearance operations continue for years into the future.