|Scene at the meeting
At the meeting, VAVA Chairman Sen. Lt. Gen. Nguyen Van Rinh briefed the delegation on affairs related to Agent Orange/dioxin in Vietnam.
According to Rinh, the US army sprayed some 80 million litres of toxic chemicals in Vietnam during the war, 61% of which was Agent Orange, containing 366kg of dioxin. As a result, more than 3 million ha of forested land was destroyed, while basic water and food sources for millions of people were contaminated.
Preliminary statistics showed that 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange/dioxin. Tens of thousands of people died from exposure, while millions of others went on to suffer from cancer and other incurable diseases. Children and grand children of many victims have been affected with widespread birth deformities.
Rinh said the toxic chemical still remains across 28 sites in Vietnam to date.
Most recently, Da Nang airport, one of these spots, saw all of its dioxin-polluted area detoxified, thanks to a six-year project funded by non-refundable aid from the US Government worth US$110 million. Meanwhile, another dioxin treatment project is underway at the Bien Hoa airport, based in the southern province of Dong Nai. With an estimated cost of US$500 million, it is expected to last for 10 years.
Since 2007, the US Government has run a specific budget for tackling Agent Orange/dioxin consequences in Vietnam, with total approved funds amounting to US$218 million. The aid has mostly been injected into addressing environmental issues.
On the part of Vietnam, the Government spends about US$50 million each year on supporting some 320,000 Agent Orange/dioxin victims, who are offered free health insurance and functional rehabilitation programmes.
Rinh also introduced his association, which was established in 2004. Currently, the VAVA has 400,000 members working across 63 provinces and cities. The association has raised VND1.8 trillion (US$77.05 million) worth of donations for victims to date.
Simone Oldenburg, Vice Chair of the Die Linke party, expressed her appreciation of VAVA’s activities and sympathies for the losses borne by Vietnamese people, particularly Agent Orange/dioxin victims, after the war.