Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Monday, November 13, 2006

Thirty years after the fall of Saigon, repercussions ensue

More than thirty years since the end of the Vietnam War, the repercussions are still felt throughout the now prospering country. Many of the victims of the lingering effects of this devastating war were not born until many years after the fall of Saigon. Children born with severe physical deformities comprise a new generation of US-made Agent Orange victims. Dioxin, the toxic component of Agent Orange, is one of the most noxious in the world. According to a Washington Post article, “during the war, American forces sprayed about 12 million gallons of Agent Orange over the jungle canopies and jade-green highlands of Vietnam.” As a result, Vietnamese medical authorities estimate that there are more than 4 million potential victims of dioxin in the country, and in some areas dioxin levels in the soil are as much as 100 times above acceptable international standards. Dioxin’s side effects can be genetically passed on from generation to generation. Direct exposure to the toxin is not necessary as officials believe that couples can genetically pass its harmful effects after eating fish from contaminated canals.

The subject of funding to clean up dioxin residues in Vietnamese soil has caused much contention between the US and its former foe. Recently, the prospect of economic cooperation has brought new plans for collaboration on a jointly funded project to remove massive amounts of the chemical from the soil. Accepting responsibility and direct compensation for victims are, however, snubbed by the United States, which maintains that there are “no conclusive scientific links between Agent Orange and the severe health problems and birth defects that the Vietnamese attribute to dioxin.”

For full article, click here.


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