The Danish Demining Group educates local staff at a World Heritage Site in VietnamThe Danish Demining Group (DDG) has implemented Mine Risk Education (MRE) sessions for 36 management board staff members of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, ‘My Son Sanctuary’.
"Improving the staff's awareness about residual mine risks is very essential, because it provides the staff with basic knowledge on how to deal with possible 'at-risk situations' during their work on protecting and preserving the World Heritage Site", Mr Nguyen Cong Khiet, deputy head of the management board explains.
The 'My Son Sanctuary', a World Heritage Site since 1999, attracted approximately 200 000 Vietnamese and international visitors in 2013 alone. During the war, the relic site was a center of severe bombings, whereby remnants are spread densely around the site's ancient temples.
'My Son Sanctuary' is located in the Quang Nam province, which is the third most contaminated province in Vietnam. Until now, the central area around the temples has already been cleared for the sake of tourists. However, some of the hilly and mountainous areas surrounding the site have not been cleared, and Unexploaded Ordnance (UXO) may therefore still exist. "Scrap collection will pose a hidden threat, not only to the collectors themselves, but also to the site if the risks of leftover bombs or mines are not communicated", Khiet says.
In 2007, the site's guard team prevented some scrap collectors from removing the explosive insides of a 1000 pound bomb. Scrap collection is a way for the local people to earn a living, but in this area it comes with dangerous risks. After the DDG MRE training, however, every single staff member is able to communicate the risks to the people living around the relic site and teach them about safe behavior.
Speaking fondly of the role of MRE, Khiet suggests that DDG extends the activity to bordering localities of the site. "My Son management board is willing to be the connection between DDG and the communities", Khiet adds.
In terms of tourism, there are only a few tours at the site, as clearence is needed before being able to run more tours. Aside from this, the board is concerned with the biggest threat during the hot season: forest fires that can detonate the left-over UXO and endanger and hinder fire protection work. Thus, "besides MRE we wish DDG could clear more contaminated areas, particularly the surrounding hillside. This would help 'My Son' with preserving cultural values for the next generations", Khiet stresses.
The increased levels of safety from mine clearence will help preserve the culture and potentially help facilitate more stable economic growth by broadening the capacities from tourism at the sanctuary. This notion of preserving culture and stimulating further growth and development through provision of safe environments is directly in line with DDG's mission.