Dealing with AO/dioxin effects in Vietnam

(VOVworld) – The American army’s chemical warfare in Vietnam severely damaged Vietnam’s ecology. 4.8 million Vietnamese have been exposed Agent Orange/ Dioxin of whom 3 million are directly affected by the defoliant. Thousands of people have died from Agent Orange/ Dioxin and thousands are suffering from diseases caused by the defoliant.

Dealing with AO/dioxin effects in Vietnam - ảnh 1
AO-affected children learn ABC (photo: Anh Tuan)

Destroying the environment and human health

Agent Orange/ Dioxin has devastated the environment, harmed ecosystems, and killed off many species of animals and plants. The ecosystems of salt-marsh forests and the upstream areas of many big rivers were severely damaged which has led to recurring floods, erosion, and drought. At former American military bases where toxic chemicals were stockpiled and mixed, Agent Orange/ Dioxin residue is much higher than the acceptable level. Three hot spots are Bien Hoa airport, Da Nang airport, and Phu Cat airport.

Vu Chien Thang, Deputy Chief of the Steering Committee for resolving the consequences of the toxic chemicals used by the American army in the Vietnam war, says: “Studies of land and food samples in hot spots such as Da Nang, Bien Hoa, and Phu Cat airport show a risk for local people exposed to the defoliant. The chemical dioxin causes birth defects and diseases in humans. Scientific research shows that a certain percentage of people exposed to dioxin will give birth to children with deformities.”

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama says: “In October, 2013, during my visit to Phuc Lam International Hospital, outside of the center of Hanoi, I encountered a large number of children who suffered from the damage caused by AO and received treatment at the hospital. I also learned that many more thousands of local children continue to struggle with disabilities from impacts of the AO, the dioxin scattered by US forces during the Vietnam war. The challenges of young people include disorder of the arms and legs, brain, the five senses, and more.”

Making an effort to cope with AO/Dioxin

The Vietnamese government has put in place national action plans to deal with Agent Orange/ Dioxin including decontaminating polluted areas and preventing the spread of the toxic chemical. Vietnam has worked with the US to detoxify Da Nang airport and the Global Environmental Fund (GEF) to decontaminate the soil at Phu Cat airport and part of Bien Hoa airport.  

Nguyen The Luc, Vice President and Secretary General of the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA), says: “We have dealt with dioxin-contaminated soil in Phu Cat airport by burying it in a landfill. We have used activated charcoal to keep contaminated soil from spreading. The remedies have minimized the impact of AO on the environment. But we need advanced technology to resolve the fundamental problems. With US support Vietnam has successfully completed the 1st phase of decontaminating Da Nang airport and we are now in the 2nd phase.”

The Vietnamese government has adopted and refined policies for AO victims, including revolutionaries exposed to AO and other categories. The government has mobilized social resources to support AO victims in production, education, and rehabilitation.

Nguyen Van Rinh, President of the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange, says: “Human health is a big issue. The government has provided AO victims with a monthly allowance and other social benefits, invested in healthcare, and helped the victims overcome their misfortune.”

The Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange plays an important role in supporting AO victims to ease their physical and mental distress.

Nguyen The Luc, Vice President and Secretary General of the Association, says: “Since its establishment 12 years ago, the Association has raised 1.1 trillion VND, including 90 billion VND from foreign donors, to help AO victims. We have given them cash and gifts, built rehabilitation centers, repaired their houses, found jobs for them, and organized free medical checkups.”

The Vietnamese government and people with foreign support have significantly reduced the effects of Agent Orange/ Dioxin in Vietnam, and helped the victims rise above their troubles.

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