The Vietnam Red Cross Central Committee launched a 2011 Action Month for Agent Orange Victims on August 5, with a view to publicising the serious consequences of the toxic chemicals on human health and the environment.

The Vietnam Red Cross will hold a march themed, “Joining hands to take care of health and improve living conditions for AO victims” scheduled for the morning of August 7 at the Thong Nhat Park square in Hanoi . It is expected to draw 7,000 people.

The programmes are in response to the movement on “Actions for Agent Orange Victims in Vietnam” launched by the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee. They aim to call on more joint efforts from organisations and people to assist AO victims, as well as honour collectives and individuals who made contributions to helping the victims.

During the past four years, through the Action month for AO victims, the society raised 152.7 billion VND to help over 50,000 AO victims each year.

The Vietnam Red Cross Central Committee also carried out a project on helping AO victims in Central Highlands and Tay Ninh provinces for 2006-2010, with a total expense of 16.3 billion VND and expanded the project for the 2011-2015 period with a total budget of 33 billion VND.

Also the same day, the VFF Central Committee handed over 750 million VND for the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA) Central Committee.

This was part of activities held nationwide to mark the 50 th year since AO/dioxin began to be sprayed in Vietnam (August 10, 1961).

The money will be used to build 50 houses for poor officials, who are also AO victims.

Addressing the presentation ceremony, VFFCC President Huynh Dam stressed the need for Party executive committees and authorities from central to grassroots levels to pay more attention to AO victims and carry out more practical activities to assist them.

Dealing with the aftermath of AO/dioxin was a long-term and urgent task that required more drastic and stronger measures and resolution, he said.

He pledged that the VFFCC will continue to support VAVA to fulfill its target of raising 250 billion VND in the 2011-2013 period to build humanitarian centres and houses, grant scholarships and offer jobs for AO victims.

The country now has 4.8 million people exposed to AO/dioxin, of which about 3 million are victims directly suffering from the deadly toxic sprayed by the US army from 1961 to 1967, according to VAVA President, Senior Lieutenant-General Nguyen Van Rinh.

On the occasion, the Red Cross and many organisations and businesses in the central province of Binh Dinh visited and presented gifts worth 777 million VND to families of AO victims.

The Associations of AO Victims and eight districts and towns in the central province of Quang Tri also handed over 600 gifts in cash and 20 others in kind worth over 180 million VND to 600 AO victims in the province, which is home to more than 13,000 AO victims.

From August 1-10, Hau Giang provincial Association of AO Victims worked with the provincial Department of Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs and the Sponsoring Association for the Disabled and Orphans to present gifts worth over 60 million VND to 300 AO victims./.