MAG is delighted to have been a part of the Youth Leaders for Disarmament training programme hosted by the United Nations' (UN) Youth Champion Phung Trang Linh in collaboration with the Wars Aftermath Initiative (WAI), supported by the United Nations Office for Disarmament (UNODA).
Phung Trang Linh, a student at the International Economics at Foreign Trade University (FTU), Vietnam, is one of 10 Youth Champions selected by the UN from more than 6,000 applicants in over 150 countries.
The innovative Youth Leaders learning project aims to empower young people to work for disarmament in their communities.
Throughout the programme, participants have been offered insights into the diplomatic process, how the UN and NGOs work while exploring the link between disarmament and the sustainable development goals (SDGs).
In an online session, Phung Trang Linh worked to raise awareness of the deadly legacy of war in Vietnam among Vietnamese young people and encourage their participation in disarmament activities.
Vietnam is one of the world’s most cluster munition contaminated countries, with an estimated 800,000 tons of unexploded bombs left over from the war that ended almost 50 years ago.
MAG was invited to take part and talk about our work clearing unexploded bombs and other lethal explosive remnants of a war to allow women, girls, boys and men to live, work and play free from fear.
With representatives from MAG and other international NGOs, UNODA, the Mine Action Visitor Center of Quang Tri, the Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs and conflict veterans, the session also provided training in vital disarmament skills, including international relations, crisis management, and personal development.
Over three consecutive weekends, nearly 200 Vietnamese students have attended the virtual events.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Under-Secretary-General and UNODA High Representative, Ms Izumi Nagamitsu, emphasised the vital role of young people in promoting peace and security, including disarmament and support for clearing the aftermath of war. Ms Nagamitsu also spoke of the UN’s increased efforts to advance the participation of young people in these activities.
MAG Vietnam's Country Director, Helene Kuperman, presented attendees with an overview of MAG’s activities globally and in Vietnam. She also called on young people to come together to support the clearance of the deadly legacy of war.
“You, as youth leaders, should be joining hands and working together towards supporting clearance and safe messaging. I would love to see the emergence of a youth champion network in Vietnam working side by side with the authorities and local and international NGOs to raise the awareness, raise concerns and motivation to clear Vietnam land from explosive remnants of war for communities to thrive across the country”.
MAG's National Technical Field Manager, Mr Ta Quang Hung, also took attendees on a virtual field visit to see MAG’s work in action in Vietnam and meet communities affected by the aftermath of conflict in Quang Binh and Quang Tri.
“It’s my pleasure to join the Youth Leaders for Disarmament Programme,” Mr Ta Quang Hung said ahead of the visit. “For me, this is a very meaningful event that carries the message of living for peace and for a safe and green environment to the youth in particular and communities in general. I would love to see more events like this in the future so the message could be communicated widely to the whole society”.
The programme, which concluded at the weekend, has also seen other prestigious guest speakers talk about the history of global conflicts and the war in Vietnam. Speakers highlighted the brutal consequences of wars, the relentless and painstaking efforts to clear its aftermath.
Attendee Le Thi Thuy Ngan, a third-year student, said: “I feel that this is an extremely meaningful and professional programme, every session we have had different guest speakers who bring plenty of useful information about disarmament and share a message of peace. I have learned a lot of new things and feel very lucky to be able to participate in this programme”.