Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vietnam, US discuss Agent Orange/dioxin issues

Vietnam, US discuss Agent Orange/dioxin issues

A conference of the Vietnamese and US Pressure Group on Agent Orange/dioxin was held in Da Nang city on April 21 to review new progress in dealing with the consequences of Agent Orange/dioxin used by the US army during the war in Vietnam.

Present at the meeting were representatives of the Ford Foundation, UNICEF, the Office of the national steering board for overcoming the consequences of toxic chemicals used by the US during the Vietnam war (Office 33), the Vietnam Association for Victims of AO/dioxin (VAVA), Da Nang city, Quang Tri and Dong Nai provinces and a number of non-governmental organisations.

The participants help strong opinions about an agreement on the group’s forthcoming action plan and presented various solutions to resolve all the problems that have arisen during the process of dealing with the effects of the AO/dioxin.

Representatives of Office 33 delivered a comprehensive report on the AO/ dioxin issue in Vietnam and the progress of detoxification work being done at Da Nang and Bien Hoa airports.

Da Nang city and Quang Tri and Dong Nai provinces reported on the effects of AO/dioxin in their localities and possible cooperation programmes in the future.

According to Ton Nu Thi Ninh, who is the initiator and former co-chair of the Vietnam-US Pressure Group on AO/dioxin, the group is the most effective way of ensuring a concentrated approach by Vietnam and the US in the AO/dioxin matter.

Dr. Charles Bailey, Director of the Ford Foundation’s Special Initiative on AO/dioxin, said that in the 1960s, US troops used AO and other defoliants to destroy about 10 percent of forests and trees in Vietnam’s central and southern regions.

Chemicals containing dioxin are very harmful to people, he said, adding that even though the AO/dioxin was used by the US during the war, it remains an outstanding matter as exposure to AO/dioxin and chronic diseases are closely related to the increasing number of children being born with deformities.

AO/dioxin victims in Vietnam include soldiers and civilians who were present in the areas that were sprayed with AO/dioxin in the 1060s, their descendants and those who live near the former demilitarized zones contaminated by the dioxin.


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