At a working session with the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange (AO)/Dioxin (VAVA) on May 17, Mai, who chairs the Party Central Committee’s Commission for Mass Mobilisation, praised the VAVA’s efforts in caring for victims.
The policies designed for the affected veterans must be carried out with the coordination of all sectors and social organisations, she added.
The VAVA has 360,000 members, with chapters across Vietnam. Funds for AO/Dioxin victims have been set up in 38 provinces and cities.
The VAVA raised almost VND1.15 trillion (US$51.6 million) by October 31, 2015, to help the victims and their families. Care centres have been established in more than 20 provinces and cities.
According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, Vietnam has provided benefits for about 250,000 war veterans contracting toxic chemicals as of early 2015.
However, that number accounts for only 12% of those suffering from the AO that the US sprayed during the war in Vietnam.
VAVA Chairman Nguyen Van Rinh admitted shortcomings in assisting the AO victims included modest benefits and limited activities of VAVA chapters. Additionally, the enforcement of Directive 43, issued by the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat in May 2015, on promoting Party leadership on the issue has not been fully implemented.
About 80 million litres of toxic chemicals, mainly Agent Orange containing dioxin, were sprayed over the south of Vietnam by the US from 1961-1971. Nearly 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to the chemicals and about three million people and their descendants still suffer from health problems as a consequence.
Vietnam spends about VND10 trillion (US$450 million) annually on aid programmes for the AO community. In recent years, the US government has supported the Southeast Asia country in mine and toxic chemical clearance.