Tuesday, October 19, 2021, 02:46 (GMT+7)

Tuesday, August 10, 2021, 07:06 (GMT+7)
Stepping up the alleviation of war toxic chemicals in Vietnam

The year of 2021 marks the 60th anniversary of the Vietnam Agent Orange Disaster (August 10, 1961 - August 10, 2021). This is an occasion for us to look back on the work of overcoming the consequences of toxic chemicals in war; at the same time, further improve the effectiveness of support, care and help for victims Agent Orange (AO).

The war has ended for more than 40 years, but the damage of AO/dioxin on the environment and human health in Vietnam are still very detrimental and long-lasting. Many dangerous diseases are attributed to this chemical, such as: skin cancer, genetic mutations, birth defects, reproductive accidents, etc. Especially, it can be passed on many generations. According to statistics, as many as 4.8 million Vietnamese people have been exposed to AO/dioxin, of whom more than 03 million become victims. Currently, in our country, hundreds of thousands of AO victims are still alive. In addition to the victims who directly involved in the resistance war and exposed to the chemical, roughly 75,000 and 35,000 victims are second and third generations, respectively. Even there have appeared 4th-generation victims. Fully aware of the severe consequences of AO on the environment and people, right after the war ended, even though there were still many difficulties, the Communist Party and Government of Vietnam have adopted many guidelines and policies to overcome AO consequences. On July 5, 2002, the Politburo issued Notice No. 69-TB/TW on "Solving the consequences of Agent Orange/dioxin" which defined that: Solving the consequences of Agent Orange/dioxin is a long-term problem, but also a very urgent issue today. Therefore, in the coming time, it is necessary to focus on leadership, direction and have stronger measures to effectively solve this complex problem…. Next, on July 5, 2004, the Prime Minister issued Decision No. 120/2004/QĐ-TTg “On some regimes for people participating in the resistance war and their offspring infected with toxic chemicals sprayed by the US during the war in Vietnam”.

Following the direction of the Politburo and the Prime Minister, on December 17, 2003, the Ministry of Internal Affairs issued Decision No. 84/2003/QĐ-BNV on the establishment of the Vietnam Association for victims of Agent Orange/dioxin (VAVA). Accordingly, on January 10, 2004, VAVA was officially established. This is an important progress, demonstrating the Party and State's deep concern for the task of overcoming the consequences of war chemicals. Up to now, VAVA has seen its operations and affiliations in 63 provinces and cities, more than 600 districts and more than 6,700 communes, wards and towns, with more than 400,000 members. The Association aims to help and protect the interests of AO victims, contribute to overcoming the consequences of toxic chemicals left by war in Vietnam, and represent for Vietnam's AO victims when working with domestic and foreign agencies and organisations. During its operation, levels of the Association have overcome many difficulties and successfully completed the functions and tasks assigned by the Party and State; proactively advised the Party committees and authorities, coordinate with local departments, branches and mass organisations to promote the care, help and protection of AO victims. Currently, it strives to fulfill the goal of ensuring that 100% of war participants infected with toxic chemicals and their infected offspring benefit from preferential policies for people with meritorious services to the revolution.

VAVA President visits victims of Agent Orange in Soc Trang province

VAVA’s foreign relations have been continuously expanded. Every year, the Association receives hundreds of international delegations and individuals from 5 continents worldwide. It maintains regular contact with about 30 international organisations; receives nearly 100 international delegations coming to work with the Central Committee of the Association and visit victims in many provinces and cities across the country. Its external activities have contributed to mobilising millions of dollars of donation for AO victims. In scientific activities, the Association has cooperative relations with 15 domestic research institutions and many foreign institutions of the USA, UK, France, Japan, Russian Federation, etc. Since August 2012, the Association has presided over the implementation of the State-level scientific project of "Researching and evaluating the effectiveness of policies for Agent Orange victims, and proposing directions and solutions to correct, supplement and improve”. The Agent Orange Institute, under the Central Committee of the Association, has presided over an independent state-level project, namely: "Humanitarian dialogue on the consequences of Agent Orange/dioxin used by the US during the war in Vietnam", etc.

In addition to the care, help and protection for the victims, VAVA has also actively coordinated in the activities to overcome the consequences of residual toxic chemicals after war. In recent years, with the development of the Vietnam-US relations, the US Government has stepped up cooperation with Vietnam’s agencies and organisations to carry out decontamination in areas where toxic chemicals are still present. At Da Nang Airport area, the Ministry of National Defence coordinated with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to implement and complete the project "Remediation of dioxin pollution at Da Nang airport". After 6 years of implementation with 110 million USD of budget, more than 90,000 cubic metres of contaminated sedimentary soil have been successfully treated by heat desorption and another 50,000 cubic metres of low-concentration dioxin-contaminated sedimentary soil have been safely isolated. As a result, the project has been completed with safety, efficiency, meeting national technical regulations on environment. After that, units of the Ministry of National Defence and the USAID completed the project "Covering and isolating dioxin-contaminated sedimentary soil at Phu Cat Airport (Binh Dinh)"; are implementing the project "Treatment of dioxin pollution at Bien Hoa Airport" with a budget of USD 390 million. USAID also cooperated with Vietnam authorities to implement the project "Supporting people with disabilities (including Agent Orange victims) in 08 provinces most sprayed with AO/dioxin during war ".

With its achievements, VAVA has been presented with a Banner by the Secretariat of the Party Central Committee with the words: "Solidarity - Love - Responsibility - For Victims of Agent Orange", the 1st and 2nd class Labour Medals by the State. Many collectives and individuals of the Associations at all levels have been awarded with noble awards by international organisations, central and local agencies, departments, and agencies for their outstanding contributions in overcoming the consequences of war chemicals, etc.

Currently, the work of overcoming the consequences of AO/dioxin, especially the work of supporting, caring, protecting and assisting the victims has set new requirements and tasks. Therefore, localities, especially levels of the associations need to focus on the following tasks:

1. Promoting propaganda of the Party's guidelines, and the State's policies and laws related to the settlement of consequences of toxic chemicals in war. In particular, focusing on thoroughly grasping Directive No. 43-CT/TW, dated May 14, 2015 of the Secretariat "On strengthening the leadership of the Party in dealing with consequences of toxic chemicals used by the US in the war in Vietnam" and directives and resolutions related to the settlement of policies for people with meritorious services to the revolution and people with disabilities in the new situation. Strengthen propaganda and raise awareness of the social community about AO disaster in Vietnam and the work of overcoming the consequences of toxic chemicals left by war.

2. Continue to promote the Movement of "Acting for victims of Agent Orange", in order to arouse the spirit of love, gratefulness and affection of Vietnamese people, thereby, strengthening the mobilisation of resources, both domestically and internationally, to improve the effectiveness of support, care and help for AO victims. During the implementation, priority should be given to the serious victims, multi-victim families, homeless victims, and victims living in remote and isolated areas.

3. Functional agencies should continue to study, advise, propose and perfect the policies for AO victims; protect the legitimate rights and interests of the victims. Levels of VAVA should coordinate with functional agencies of the Labour, War Invalids and Social Affairs sector, and the Veterans Association at the same level to continue reviewing and appraising records, ensuring the interests of the victims who are qualified, but haven’t been entitled to the favourable policies as prescribed; at the same time, advise the local Party committees and authorities to solve the problems and complaints from the grassroots, contributing to ensuring political security, social order and safety in the locality.

4. On the basis of the Conclusion No. 158-TB/KL, dated January 2, 2020 of the Secretariat on continuing to implement the Conclusion No. 102 of the Politburo (11th tenure) "On the mass association", local Party committees and authorities should pay attention to consolidating and making the structure of VAVA strong, fulfilling the tasks assigned by the Party and State.

5. Keep persevering in the struggle for justice for Vietnamese AO victims by means and measures consistent with the Party's foreign policy and guidelines and international practices. Synchronously coordinate methods, domestic and international forces, by both state diplomacy and people-to-people diplomacy with appropriate measures and steps.

The consequences of toxic chemicals left by war in Vietnam are still very severe and long-lasting. Therefore, each organisation and individual should continue to thoroughly grasp and well implement the guidelines of the Party and the State, and continue to support, care for and help victims of Agent Orange to overcome difficulties and diseases and integrate into the community. It is both the tradition and morality of the nation and the responsibility of the social community.

Senior Lieutenant General NGUYEN VAN RINH, VAVA President 

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