Belfast Telegraph

Minister to see Vietnam aid work

The impact of Ireland's role in clearing landmines from parts of Vietnam scarred from the war is being seen first hand this week by junior minister Joe Costello.

Officials from Irish Aid are meeting disabled people who are still suffering from the legacy of conflict forty years after the end of the Vietnam War.

Mr Costello said Vietnam has reduced poverty from almost 60% in the early 1990s to fewer than 15%, but warned some 15 million people continue to live in poverty.

Ireland's development aid programme also funds schools and irrigation schemes which support poor farmers living in some of the most remote and mountainous regions of the country.

"Many communities are still suffering from the legacy of war that has scarred the country," said the Minister of State for Trade and Development.

"The Irish Aid programme in Vietnam is clearly-focused on assisting vulnerable communities through supporting the provision of school and irrigation schemes, through demining and the disposal of unexploded bombs which cause death and devastating injury every year, and through helping the poor and disabled overcome the legacy of war." Ireland will provide 11 million euro in assistance to Vietnam this year, in addition to 1 million euro to support demining in Laos and Cambodia.

Mr Costello's three day trip takes place as investigations continue in to the alleged fraud of Irish Aid funding in Uganda.

All financial assistance channelled through the office of prime minister Amama Mbabazi has been suspended after it emerged that 4 million euro of Irish Aid funding was transferred to unauthorised accounts.

Three officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs are in the capital Kampala to investigate the alleged misappropriation of funds, which was earmarked for education, policing and tackling HIV and Aids in the poorest regions.

Elsewhere Mr Costello plans to discuss measures to increase trade between Ireland and Vietnam and met a number of Irish companies who are working successfully in the Vietnam market. Bilateral trade between the countries reached 180 million euro in 2010.

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