A text-messaging drive to raise funds for Vietnamese Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin victims has been launched nationwide in response to the Day for AO victims (August 10).

The charity campaign, held for the third time since 2011, runs from August 1 to September 30. Each message sent to 1409 will donate 18,000 VND (0.85 USD) for the victims.

Donations can also made via website www.vava.org.vn and www.noidaudacam.net.
At a press briefing on August 8, President of the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin (VAVA) Sen. Lieut. Gen Nguyen Van Rinh said the text messaging drive in 2011 and 2012 raised a total of 9.4 billion VND (more than 447,000 USD), which was spent on the building of 12 care centres and 56 houses for the victims, not to mention scholarships for AO children and other support.

According to Rinh, besides the drive, the VAVA is also organising various activities with the aim of collecting 130 billion VND this year to assist AO victims.

In an interview granted to Vietnam News Agency on the occasion of the 10th founding anniversary of VAVA, Sen. Lieut. Gen Rinh said over 200,000 AO victims are now entitled to monthly Government allowance, just a small figure compared to the total number of AO victims nationwide estimated at more than 3 million.

Therefore, the association will continue to mobilise domestic and international resources to help ease the difficulties of the victims.

He said in the long run, VAVA aims to build 35 more rehabilitation and nursing centres in the northern, central and southern regions. They will provide care to poor and old victims as well as victims’ orphans.

According to Sen. Lieut. Gen Rinh, over the past 10 years, VAVA has raised nearly 630 billion VND (30 million USD), which was used to fund the building of rehabilitation centres in 20 localities and 2,392 houses for poor victims. He estimated that about half a million victims have received assistance in different forms from the association.

The VAVA president stressed that besides providing help to the victims, the association has another important mission, that of representing more than 3 million Vietnamese victims to sue US chemical companies which produced the toxic herbicides used by the US army during the war in Vietnam.
Between 2004 and 2009, VAVA lodged a lawsuit at the US courts of first instance, appeal and supreme level against the US chemical companies.

Though the courts refused to take up the case, Vietnam has successfully brought to light the US chemical warfare in Vietnam, thereby drawing international attention and giving a boost to the world movement against chemical war, demanding the US Government and chemical firms commit to cleaning up dioxin residues in Vietnam and assisting the Vietnamese victims.

In May, 2009, the International Tribunal of Conscience held by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers in Paris ruled that the US Government must be liable for the use of dioxin in Vietnam and the chemical firms are their accomplices.

It also requested that the US Government and chemical firms compensate AO victims and their families as well as detoxify the environment in Vietnam, especially hot spots near former US military bases.

President Rinh said the association will continue to garner support for AO victims’ struggle for justice in the time to come.-VNA