The first-ever requiem for Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange/dioxin will be held in late July, 2011, marking the 50th anniversary of the catastrophe of AO defoliants sprayed by the US on Vietnam.

The event, as part of series of activities for AO victims, was announced by Nguyen Van Rinh, President of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin (VAVA), at a press briefing in Hanoi on Dec. 9.

Other prominent events in 2011 will include a meeting in commemoration of the AO catastrophe on August 10, which is Day for AO Victims, and the second international conference on AO victims, which will take place on August 8 and 9.

At the briefing, Rinh told the reporters about his recent visit to the US at the invitation of the Association of Veterans for Peace and the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign (VAORRC).

During the trip, the VAVA officials visited San Francisco , New York and Washington to gain support from war veterans, lawyers, and scientists for the Vietnamese AO victims’ lawsuit for justice. They were received by US congressmen and representatives from the Department of State for the first time.

At these meetings, these US organisations and individuals agreed that the AO issue in Vietnam was vital and needed to be addressed and that the US government needed to pay more attention to the matter.

In the visit, VAVA and VAORRC issued a joint statement confirming that they will together work with the US government and parliament to win assistance for AO victims in both Vietnam and the US and for the work to purify dioxin “hotspots” in Vietnam .

The two organisations will speed up campaigns to raise money for the Fund for Vietnamese AO victims.

In 2010, VAVA raised 52 billion VND from individuals and organisations in and outside the country and spent over 36.5 billion VND on building houses and care centres for AO victims, as well as providing scholarships and helping victims find jobs.

According to VAVA, in the 1961-1971 period, the US troops sprayed 80 million litres of chemical defoliants containing nearly 400kg of dioxin.

As many as 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to dioxin, of whom 3 million suffer from health problems due to the exposure./.