Addressing the consequences of toxic Agent Orange (AO) and caring for the AO victims are a long-term, crucial and urgent task, continuously needing the key role of the Vietnam Association of Victims of AO/dioxin (VAVA), Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has said.

Addressing the VAVA’s third National Congress in Hanoi on December 24, the leader called on the association to raise its operational efficiency in order to well bridge the community and AO victims in the care for these disadvantaged.

He said the association should give more importance to the mass mobilisation work to gain more support, both at home and abroad, for the victims.

The association is also required to coordinate with relevant branches and agencies in this field, enhance international solidarity and persistently pursue the struggle for justice of Vietnamese AO victims.

Over the past decade, VAVA has played the core in lawsuits against US chemical companies producing the defoliant Agent Orange, which was sprayed on Vietnam during the war, to seek justice for Vietnamese AO victims.

According to VAVA, US troops sprayed 80 million litres of the defoliant Agent Orange, which contained almost 400 kg of toxic dioxin, on Vietnam’s southern battlefields during a 10-year period beginning on August 10, 1961.

Preliminary statistics by Vietnamese scientists indicated about three million Vietnamese people were exposed to dioxin, while statistics from US scientists at Columbia University showed that the number is anywhere between 2.1 - 4.8 million. The toxic chemicals still have a severe influence on Vietnam’s filial generation today.

The association’s efforts are well worth as it has drawn more attention of Party Committees and authorities at all levels, and received warm response from the public, he said.

He stated that the Party, State, the whole political system and people will try their utmost to help the disadvantaged group enjoy better lives.

During the 2013-2018 tenure, the association will continue the justice fight for AO victim and strive to have a membership of 400,000.

It proposed the Party and State to soon announce norms identifying AO victims in a bid to help perfect policies towards the victims and make it easier for their hard struggle.

The congress proclaimed former Vice State President Nguyen Thi Binh as the association’s honorary President and elected a new 101-member executive board with Sen. Lieut. Gen Nguyen Van Rinh retaining his post as President.

Established on January 10, 2004, VAVA now groups chapters in 59 cities and provinces with over 315,000 members. It has set up funds in 33 localities and 24 rehabilitation centres in 20 provinces and cities.

It has raised nearly 718 billion VND (34 million USD) in and outside the country to repair and build houses, grant scholarships, generate jobs and offer storm relief for AO victims and their families.-VNA