Trần Tố Nga (right) and foreign reporters outside the French court that is hearing her case against chemical companies involved in the production of Agent Orange on January 25. — VNA/VNS Photo Linh Hương
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam supports Agent Orange victims in their fight for justice from chemical companies, Vietnamese spokesperson for the foreign ministry Lê Thị Thu Hằng said on Thursday.
She made the statement during a press briefing in Hà Nội in response to questions regarding litigation brought by 78-year-old Vietnamese-French woman Trần Tố Nga to a French court that opened a trial recently.
Nga is seeking compensation for her own and her children’s health problems and severe environmental destruction from the actions of 14 multinational companies involved in the manufacturing of the toxin.
The French court is expected to rule on the lawsuit on May 10, and if the court decides in her favour, Nga would be the first Vietnamese AO/dioxin victim to be compensated.
“Việt Nam suffered tremendously from the consequences of the war, including lasting and serious impacts of the Agent Orange/dioxin,” Hằng said.
“We support the Agent Orange’s victims in seeking legal accountability from chemical companies that produced and sold Agent Orange to be used by the US in the war in Việt Nam,” she said.
The US army used the highly toxic Agent Orange as a defoliant to clear vast tracts of forestlands in the southern region of Việt Nam to strip the North Vietnamese forces of protective coverage and crops in the 1960-70s.
From 1961-1971, US troops sprayed more than 80 million litres of herbicides – 44 million litres of which were AO, containing nearly 370kg of dioxin - over southern Việt Nam, which resulted in 4.8 million Vietnamese being exposed to the toxin. Many of the offspring of those exposed are still suffering from deformities and illnesses caused by the toxin.
“Việt Nam is of the opinion that these companies should have the responsibility to remedy the ramifications of the Agent Orange/dioxin in Việt Nam,” the Vietnamese diplomat noted. — VNS