U.S. and Vietnam Sign Memorandum of Understanding

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On 16 December 2013, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam David Shear signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to locate and clear remaining Vietnam War-era unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination in Vietnam.1 Bui Hong Linh, the deputy minister of the Ministry of Labour - Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), signed the MOU for Vietnam. The memorandum is essential, said Linh, as it sets ground rules for cooperation between the two countries to confront the remaining explosive remnants of war (ERW) in Vietnam. By 2015 the program will finish mapping UXO locations throughout Vietnam and establish a data center to document the clearance process and victims of UXO.2

War-era unexploded ordnance in Vietnam. 
Photo courtesy of MAG (Mines Advisory Group). Photo courtesy of Mercer University/Burgess Brown.War-era unexploded ordnance in Vietnam.
Photo courtesy of MAG (Mines Advisory Group).

According to the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, 104,973 mine/ERW casualties (38,940 killed/66,033 injured) occurred in Vietnam through 2012. Reported casualties in 2012 (18 killed/53 injured/two unknown) showed a significant increase over previous years, but the reason for the increase is unknown.3

Vietnam’s UXO contamination stems from three decades of conflict, beginning with the communist uprising against French colonial power in the 1940s and ending with the 1975 fall of Saigon. Despite years of clearance efforts, some areas in Vietnam remain highly contaminated by UXO and landmines, especially the central region and the Vietnam-Laos border.4

A Vietnamese Ministry of Defense 2009 survey states that UXO contaminates approximately 35 percent of the country’s central region.5 In a 2002 survey, MOLISA reported that 6.6 million hectares (16.3 million acres) of UXO contaminate Vietnamese land, not including maritime areas. MOLISA also noted that only 20 percent of UXO were found and defuzed.1 c

~ Chloe Cunningham, CISR staff

Contact Information

Center for International Stabilization and Recovery
James Madison University - MSC 4902
Harrisonburg, VA / USA 22807



  1. In Vietnam, this war is called the American War.
  2. “Vietnam, US sign agreement for clearing war-era ordnance.” Thanhnien News. 17 December 2013. http://www.thanhniennews.com/politics/vietnam-us-sign-agreement-for-clearing-warera-ordnance-350.html.
  3. “Vietnam.” Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor. Last modified 30 August 2013. http://www.the-monitor.org/index.php/cp/display/region_profiles/theme/3160.
  4. “Vietnam.” Mines Advisory Group. Last modified 30 August 30 2013. http://www.magamerica.org/country/vietnam/overview.
  5. “Vietnam: Life-threatening Landmine Scavenging on the Increase.” IRIN News. 1 January 2014. http://www.irinnews.org/report/87822/vietnam-life-threatening-landmine-scavenging-on-the-increase.