Vietnam war veterans call for help for Agent Orange victims

HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam War veterans from the United States, South
Korea, Australia and Vietnam gathered on Tuesday to call for more help
for the victims of the Agent Orange defoliant used by the U.S.
military.
Deformed children born to parents Vietnam believes were affected by
the estimated 20 million gallons of herbicides, including Agent
Orange, poured on the country were brought to the conference as
dramatic evidence of its effects.
“The use of Agent Orange in Vietnam produced unacceptable threats to
life, violated international law and created a toxic wasteland that
continued to kill and injure civilian populations long after the war
was over,” said Joan Duffy from Pennsylvania.
Duffy who served in a U.S. military hospital in Vietnam in 1969-1970,
said the Agent Orange used there was more toxic than usual.
“In an effort to work faster and increase production of Agent Orange,
the chemical companies paid little attention to quality control
issues,” she said.
“The Agent Orange destined for Vietnam became much more highly
contaminated with dioxin as the result of sloppy, hasty
manufacturing,” she told the conference in Hanoi.
Last March, a federal court dismissed a suit on behalf of millions of
Vietnamese who charged the United States committed war crimes by its
use of Agent Orange, which contains dioxin, to deny communist troops
ground cover.
The Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA) has
filed an appeal, saying assistance was needed urgently as many were
dying.
The U.S. appeals court was expected to make a decision in April.
Dioxin can cause cancer, deformities and organ dysfunction.
Manufacturers named in the suit included Dow Chemical Co. and Monsanto
Co..
VAVA chairman Dang Vu Hiep said Vietnam’s lawsuit against U.S.
chemical manufacturers was meant not only to help Vietnamese victims,
but also victims in other countries.
In January, a South Korean appeals court ordered Dow Chemical Co and
Monsanto Co. to pay $65 million in damages to 20,000 of the country’s
Vietnam War veterans for exposure to defoliants such as Agent Orange.
Due to problems arising from jurisdiction and the amount of time that
has elapsed since the war, legal experts said it will be cumbersome or
perhaps impossible for the South Korean veterans to collect damages.
The chemical remains in the water and soil, scientists say.
“Thirty years after the fire ceased, many Vietnamese are still dying
due to the effect of toxic chemicals sprayed by the U.S. forces in
Vietnam and many Vietnamese will still be killed by the chemicals,”
said Bui Tho Tan, a war reporter who suffers from throat cancer.
“Those who committed the crime must be punished,” he said.

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