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Vietnam commemorates 61 years of Agent Orange disaster

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Vietnam commemorates today the 61st anniversary of the catastrophe that occurred in the south of the country when the United States Army spread tens of millions of liters of Agent Orange/dioxin, whose devastating effects are still perceptible.

The disaster caused by the toxic substance continues to leave serious consequences. Hundreds of thousands of people have died and a similar number suffer from fatal diseases, the president of the Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin of Ho Chi Minh City, Major General Tran Ngoc Tho, recalled at a commemorative ceremony.

According to journalistic sources, about 4.8 million Vietnamese were exposed to this chemical substance, while another three million, who are their children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren, are still affected, despite the fact that the war ended almost half a century ago.

What the US Department of Defense baptized as “Operation Ranch Hand” began on August 10, 1961 and lasted a decade, during which some 80 million liters of toxic chemicals, 61 percent Agent Orange, were sprayed on more than three million hectares of land in southern Vietnam.

Estimates from the Vietnamese Association of Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin and the national Red Cross, cited by the VNA news agency, indicate that of the three million Vietnamese affected by this lethal substance, at least 150,000 children were born with birth defects and one million people suffer serious consequences.

Meanwhile, a report from the Institute of Medicine of the United States released more than a decade ago showed the link between exposure to Agent Orange with five diseases: soft tissue cancer, benign lymphoma, chronic lymphoma (including hairy leukemia), cancer and chlorosis.

With the creation of the Vietnam Agent Orange/Dioxin Victims Association (VAVA) in 2004, the state allocated tens of millions of dollars for monthly aid, medical care and functional rehabilitation for victims and to support affected areas, recalled Colonel General Nguyen Van Rinh.

The VAVA chairman stressed that the Communist Party, the state and the people made wholehearted efforts with the highest sense of responsibility to care for people with revolutionary merit, including those suffering from toxic chemicals in the resistance war and victims of that harmful substance.

More than 320,000 people who participated in the war and their infected children today enjoy the right to preferential policies applied to people with revolutionary merits, said Van Rinh, specifying that from 2004 to date, more than 113 million dollars have been added to the Fund for The Victims of Agent Orange.

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