People have been returning to the Vietnamese city of Quang Tri as part of the government's plan to redevelop the country and make full use of its natural resources.
People have been returning to the Vietnamese city of Quang Tri as part of the government's plan to redevelop the country and make full use of its natural resources. But it will be some time yet before Vietnam recovers from the years of war that devastated many cities and former agricultural land.
SYNOPSIS: Quang Tri was one of the hardest hit cities during the civil war. It lies just south of the former demilitarized zone that divided Vietnam into north and south. The war has been over for 16 months but the damaged buildings are a constant reminder of the fighting as people return for the reconstruction plan.
Most of the damage to Quang Tri was caused during fighting in 1972. The city had been occupied during earlier fighting by North Vietnamese forces. In June, 1972, about 20,000 South Vietnamese troops, with United States support, launched an offensive against Quang Tri. The area received heavy bombing and came under fire from U.S. cruisers and destroyers. The offensive met with fierce resistance and was halted on the outskirts of the city.
Few buildings were left standing in the weeks of bombing that followed. The ruins were defended stubbornly by an elite North Vietnamese division and the South Vietnamese were forced to fight their way from house to house. By the end of September, the South Vietnamese occupied much of the city but the citadel remained under North Vietnamese control. With the city in ruins, most people just collected their belongings and moved on.
Many of the ruins of the 1972 fighting remain four years later. Tanks and trucks that were damaged during the fighting are still there now. But the Vietnamese government has declared its determination to remove the scars of the years of war, and fully develop the land's agricultural potential. The shell craters will be filled in, and the military scrap metal used for other machinery. The United Nations has provided Vietnam with technical and financial aid to assist the development programmes, but it will be a number of years before the country achieves economic independence. And Vietnamese officials realise that it will take more than a few months to erase the wars devastation and return the country to its former stability.