Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — The settlement of chemical toxin consequences is an urgent and long-term issue, and also the responsibility of the whole political system and people, President Trần Đại Quang said as the nation commemorated the 55th Agent Orange (AO) Day in Việt Nam in Hà Nội yesterday.
At the ceremony, Senior Lieutenant General Nguyễn Văn Rinh, Chairman of the Việt Nam Association of Victims of AO/Dioxin (VAVA), said that on August 10, 1961, the US army began spraying the so-called “herbicide” in Việt Nam, triggering the biggest and longest chemical warfare with the most catastrophic consequences in human history.
August 10 had become a day for AO/dioxin victims to remind people of the disastrous effects on the environment and human health, and call for joint efforts to ease the pain suffered by victims, he noted.
From 1961 to 1971, the US army sprayed 80 million litres of toxic chemicals, 61 per cent of which was AO that contained at least 366kg of dioxin – one of the most toxic substances ever known in history, on nearly 25 per cent of the area of southern Việt Nam. That exposed 4.8 million Vietnamese people to the toxins, and more than 3 million of them were victims.
"Dioxin made many women infertile, and a large number of children were born with deformities. Notably, its impacts were long-lasting, as there have been fourth-generation victims," Rinh added.
Susan Schnall, a US veteran who took part in the US’s war in Việt Nam who is now head of the New York branch of Veterans for Peace, apologised for AO’s massive destruction in the country.
She vowed to work with Việt Nam to deal with the war’s impacts, detoxify contaminated land and care for the victims.
At the commemoration, President Quang expressed deep sympathy for AO victims and hoped that they would keep faith in life.
The Party and State have continually paid attention to AO impact settlement, including offering monthly financial aid and healthcare to victims, combined with the national action plan on resolving AO impacts with local socio-economic development activities and calling for domestic and foreign support for the victims.
He appreciated contributions by all-level authorities, businesses, and people at home and abroad to care for the victims. He also thanked diplomatic agencies, foreign organisations and people advocating for AO victims’ justice.
The settlement of AO consequences would also help promote Việt Nam-US relations, along with global efforts for peace, co-operation and development, the leader said, calling on people around the world to work together to prevent chemical warfare.
At the ceremony, President Quang presented the VAVA with the Labour Order (first class) for its outstanding performance in past years.
The association also launched a campaign inviting Vietnamese people and foreigners to support AO victims by texting DACAM to 1409. The campaign lasts from August 10 to September 30. — VNS