Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Victims of Agent Orange

In his recent visit to Viet Nam, President Bush, in a joint statement, said that the US should be a part of the collective effort to deal with the environmental contamination caused by the herbicide, Agent Orange, used throughout the Viet Nam War. According to The Mercury News, only recently has there been discussion of services offered for those that are victims of Agent Orange.

According to statistics from the Columbia School of Public Heath, 21 million gallons of Agent Orange were dumped throughout at least 3,000 villages in Viet Nam in order to defoliate the jungle and root out communist guerillas. Additionally, it is believed that 4.8 million Vietnamese were exposed. Since its usage, it has been determined that Agent Orange contains a dioxin, which is a carcinogen and is linked to birth defects.

Throughout Viet Nam, orphanages are filled with abandoned children affected by Agent Orange; their afflictions range from misshapen eyes, over-sized heads, fused fingers, and mental retardation. Some are even born without eyes and limbs. Women have seen a large number of miscarriages and stillborns, and there has been high incidences of cancer and illness in both men and women.

As of yet, little has been done to clean-up those areas where Agent Orange has leached into the ground and still remains a threat. However, recently, the Ford Foundation announced a $2.2 million dollar grant for clean-up efforts as well as research and assistance to those that have been exposed to the dioxin. Additionally, the United States has granted $300,000 for clean-up efforts. However, beyond clean-up efforts, measures that help the victims of Agent Orange have proven to be difficult. In an artful balance, the US believes that it is important to assist those that have been affected by the dioxin, however, the government and manufactures of Agent Orange are not willing to fully accept blame; only perpetuating the political tension between the two nations.

For the full article, click here.


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