Association works over two decades to assist AO victims
  • | VNS | January 22, 2024 01:32 PM
Over the 20 years since its development, the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA) has obtained remarkable achievements in the effort to support victims.

Workers layer insulation and waterproofing materials to handle dioxin-contaminated soil at A So Airport in the central province of Thừa Thiên - Huế.

From 1961 to 1971, the US army sprayed more than 80 million litres of herbicides over southern Việt Nam, 44 million litres of which was AO containing nearly 370kg of dioxin.

As a result, around 4.8 million Vietnamese were exposed to the toxic chemical, and more than 3 million became victims. Hundreds of thousands of people have died while a roughly similar number of others are struggling with deformities and fatal diseases. In particular, the impact of AO/dioxin has lingered on for generations, even to the present fourth generation.

In the face of the need for settling toxic chemical consequences, healing war wounds, and fighting for justice for AO victims, VAVA was officially established on January 10, 2004.

Reviewing its performance over the last 20 years, VAVA said it has exerted efforts to weather numerous difficulties and fulfil the tasks assigned by the Party and State, with a focus on caring for, assisting, and fighting for justice for AO/dioxin victims of Vietnam.

Apart from its Central Committee, the association is now present in all the 63 centrally-run cities and provinces with over 400,000 members nationwide. The fund for AO/dioxin victims has been set up at the central level and in 40 of the 63 provincial-level localities, not to mention those in 108 districts and the voluntary ones in nearly 550 communes, wards, and townships.

From the time of its inception to November 2023, VAVA has raised more than VNĐ4.236 trillion (US$172.9 million) both in cash and in kind for assisting victims by setting up social protection centres, building and repairing houses, presenting gifts and financial aid, granting scholarships, giving health check-ups and treatment, providing vocational training and helping them seek jobs.

Communications in various forms have been boosted. The association’s emulation movement named “For the AO victims of Vietnam” has been implemented on a large scale and connected with a similar campaign launched by the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee, thus yielding fruitful results, VAVA reported.

In addition, the struggle for justice for AO/dioxin victims has been persistently promoted in conformity with the Party and State’s viewpoint, guideline, and foreign policy, thus helping improve the US Congress and Government’s awareness of the issue and their sense of responsibility towards the cooperation with Vietnam in the environmental remediation of dioxin contamination at Đà Nẵng airport in central Đà Nẵng City and Biên Hoà Airbase in southern Đồng Nai Province.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has also carried out a project to assist the disabled, including AO/dioxin victims, in the provinces hit hard by toxic chemicals, along with some other projects benefiting victims.

To support Trần Tố Nga, a Vietnamese French victim of AO, in her lawsuit against the US firms manufacturing the toxic chemical used by the US army during the war in Vietnam, VAVA has worked closely with French lawyers and raised resources to help her. It also issued a statement of support for the lawsuit and sent an open letter to domestic and international organisations to call for their objection to the court’s first-instance judgment and assist Nga to sue the US firms at the appeal court in Paris, VAVA noted.

Sen. Lt. Gen. Nguyễn Văn Rinh, VAVA Chairman in the fourth tenure (2018 - 2023), stated that settling consequences of the toxic chemicals used by the US during wartime is the conscience and responsibility towards those devoting their lives to the Fatherland’s independence and freedom.

It is a social and humanitarian issue regarding the compatriots residing in AO-hit areas. Caring for, assisting, and fighting for justice of AO victims form an urgent need and hold great political, economic, social, and diplomatic significance.

The establishment of VAVA reflected the Party and State’s attention to the AO issue and also met the aspirations of the people, especially the millions of AO/dioxin victims in Vietnam, he said.

Lt. Gen. Nguyễn Hữu Chính, VAVA Chairman in the fifth tenure (2023 - 2028), affirmed that VAVA Executive Committee will stay united to bring into play experiences gained during previous tenures, work to mobilise more domestic and international resources for the work, and step up the care for and improvement of AO victims fulfilling the tasks assigned by the Party and State. 

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