The Vietnam News Agency (VNA) on August 8 held an exchange titled, “For Agent Orange Pain” to mark 50 years of the AO catastrophe in Vietnam (Aug. 10, 1961-2011).

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan, representatives from the embassies of Greece , Finland , Russia , Chile , France and Palestine , and donors joined AO victims at the event.

During the get-together, the Deputy PM hailed VNA’s initiative to set up the “For Agent Orange Pain” fund, which, he said, had launched practical and efficient activities to help AO victims during the past five years.

Although the war ended 50 years ago, its consequences still existed in the daily lives of AO victims, who were the poorest among the poor, Nhan said.

He described the VNA fund as an inspiration for social organisations, which together with the Government continued to provide humanitarian aid to families of AO victims.

The Deputy PM applauded the presence of representatives from diplomatic corps and international organisations at the exchange, which, he said, provided evidence of the sympathy of international friends for AO victims.

The struggle for justice for Vietnamese AO victims had made progress but needed to be continued, he noted.

Nhan used the occasion to express his profound sympathy to AO victims and held conversations with victims who have overcome their pains to integrate into the community with extraordinary efforts. They include Nguyen Son Lam from the northern province of Quang Ninh, who was born without legs but strove to graduate from two departments in Hanoi University and Phuong Dong University , plus two sisters, Thanh Hang and Thanh Ha, who were working at Kien Thuc Ngay Nay (Today’s Knowledge) magazine in Ho Chi Minh City .

Vice State President Nguyen Thi Doan also sent a message to the exchange, in which she described the event as a human cultural activity and a good deed.

The exchange aimed to call on joint efforts to ease the difficulties and pain facing Vietnamese AO victims, she said.

VNA Director General Tran Mai Huong, who was also head of the fund’s management council, said since its establishment in September, 2006, the fund had launched a wide range of activities to support AO victims and presented gifts to thousands of victims nationwide.

The fund has raised a total of 3.8 billion VND in cash, to which the Government and the President of Greece contributed 86,000 EUR. The fund has also built 21 houses for victims in provinces of Dong Thap, Ben Tre, Vinh Long and Thanh Hoa, he said.

On the occasion, the VNA fund received over 650 million VND from domestic and foreign individuals and organsiations, with Deputy PM Nhan contributing 5 million VND./.