Non-stop efforts to deal with AO consequences

The Vietnamese government is currently providing monthly welfare support to over 200,000 Agent Orange/dioxin (AO) victims.
The Vietnamese government is currently providing monthly welfare support to over 200,000 Agent Orange/dioxin (AO) victims, according to the national steering committee on overcoming consequences of toxic chemicals/dioxin (Steering Committee 33).

At a press conference in Hanoi on April 22, the steering committee office also reported that a series of projects are underway to detoxify dioxin-contaminated land areas.

Nearly 7,500 cu.m. of dioxin-contaminated soil in Phu Cat airport have been removed and put in a closed landfill, while an ongoing project at Da Nang Airport funded by the US government is expected to be completed in 2016, said the office.

Le Ke Son, Director of the Steering Committee 33 Office, said that the AO issue has received much attention of the mass media and the domestic and international public over the past 40 years, due to the severe consequences on humans as well as the environment.

The Prime Minister last June approved a national plan of actions on overcoming AO/dioxin consequences in Vietnam until 2015 with a vision to 2020. A State-level research project has also been launched to clarify the harmful effects of dioxin and seek solutions to its consequences.

Vice Country Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Vietnam Bakhodir Burkhanov stressed the importance of providing full and timely information on the contamination situation, ways of contamination as well as efforts of solving the issue. Such information will raise people’s awareness on the issue, thus, equipping themselves with concrete measures to prevent the dioxin contamination.

The information also helps the government of Vietnam and its development partners to join hands to minimise after-effects of AO/dioxin, the UNDP official added.

From 1961-1971, US troops sprayed more than 80 million litres of herbicides - 44 million litres of which were AO that contained nearly 370kg of dioxin - over southern Vietnam.

As a result, around 3.5–4 million Vietnamese people were exposed to AO/dioxin. Many of the victims have died, while millions of their descendants are living with deformities and diseases due to the effects of AO.

The Aspen Institute, a partner in the Vietnam-US Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin, estimates that Vietnam needs around 410 million USD to deal with the consequences of the toxic dioxin in the 2012–2017 period.-VNA

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