Many AO victim families are living in poverty (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – Various activities have been held across the country to ease the pain of victims of Agent Orange/dioxin (AO) ahead of the 55th anniversary of the AO/dioxin disaster in Vietnam (August 10, 1961-2016).

The People’s Committee of the northern province of Dien Bien on August 9 presented 50 gifts worth 700,000 VND each to AO victims in the locality. A local firm, the Sao Thai Duong company, also offered 70 gifts worth 365,000 VND each to the victims.

So far, the Dien Bien Association of AO Victims has established its seven district-level chapters with total 146 members. The association has helped build six houses and fix four others for AO victims, along with loans to assist them in production.

As of June this year, 188 direct AO victims and their 39 offspring are living in the province, mostly in rural areas with poor living conditions.

Meanwhile, the northern province of Thai Nguyen, home to over 2,000 AO victims, including nearly 1,000 victims of second generation, held a ceremony to honour the victims who have succeeded in overcoming their difficult conditions and gaining achievements in production during the 2011-2016 period.

Currently, as many as 40 percent of AO victims households are living in poverty.

In the 2011-2016 period, 32 billion VND was raised to support them, along with nearly 5 billion VND mobilised by the associations of AO Victims at all levels in Thai Nguyen. The fund has helped build 400 houses and repair 100 others for the victims. More than 60,000 gifts have been presented in festive days, while the victims have been supported in health care services and production capital.

On the occasion, the provincial Association of AO Victims mobilised more than 200 million VND to assist the victims.

At the same time, the Association of AO Victims of the Mekong Delta province of Bac Lieu where over 6,000 AO victims are living, reported that it has raised over 8.5 billion VND to build 81 houses for AO victims, together with 440 wheelchairs and other assistance in other fields.

According to the Vietnam Association of AO Victims (VAVA), between 1961 and 1971, US troops sprayed more than 80 million litres of herbicides, 44 million litres of which were AO, containing nearly 370 kilograms of dioxin, over southern Vietnam.

As a result, around 4.8 million Vietnamese were exposed to the toxic chemical, about 3 million of them are AO victims. While tens of thousands of people have died, millions of their descendants are living with deformities and diseases as a direct result of the chemical’s effects.-VNA