Photo: Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA)
Recent seminar in Hanoi reviewed ongoing work of assessing damage caused by use of dioxins during US War.
The “Assessment of the Damage of Agent Orange/Dioxin used by the US During the Vietnam War” international scientific seminar was held in Hanoi on August 8 and attended by Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, and Vietnamese ambassadors, international scientists, and chief representatives of international agencies in Vietnam.
Mr. Dam shared stories of Vietnamese families with multiple generations affected by Agent Orange.
“The people I have visited are just a few of the millions of Vietnamese people exposed to Agent Orange,” he said. “My family and I visited a family with three generations affected by the toxin, but many have four generations affected.”
About 80 million liters of toxic chemicals, 61 per cent of which were Agent Orange, were sprayed over 3 million ha and 26,000 villages in Vietnam from 1961to 1971, causing long-term severe consequences for the country and its people.
According to figures from the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), some 400,000 people have died as result of exposure. Some 3 million Vietnamese people have suffered, with over 150,000 second-generation victims, 35,000 third-generation victims, and 2,000 fourth-generation victims.
Agent Orange also destroyed much vegetation, resulting in the disappearance of primeval forests in the central highlands and mangrove forests in the south of the country.
The chemical substances used by the US military in Vietnam contained dioxin levels thousands of times higher than permitted.
International scientists at the seminar released the results of scientific research on the serious consequences for human health and the environment of Agent Orange, discussed and proposed solutions, and called for collaboration and support from the international community in fight for justice for the victims.
Mr. Dam said that all support is invaluable.
Vietnam has adopted many policies and mobilized society to help the victims of Agent Orange, with about VND10 trillion ($455 million) spent on monthly allowances, healthcare, rehabilitation for victims, and support for hard-hit areas.
Mr. Dam said such actions remain very small and the most important matter is supporting victims in their fight for justice.
“Vietnamese people, who did not produce, did not purchase, did not import, and did not spray this deadly poison have suffered the consequences,” he said. The war has ended, but adults and children continued to be killed not only by Agent Orange but also by unexploded ordnance.
Mr. Dam called for the international community to help Vietnam close the past and look to the future. Countries, scientists, organizations and individuals can support victims in their fight for justice through “the voice of science, conscience and truth,” he said.