Sunday, December 09, 2012

Vietnam's Long Agent Orange Impact

Vietnamese still fighting for recognition of Agent Orange impact
Doan Minh Bao, 29, has severely disfigured hands and a speech impediment. He has worked at the Hope Centre for eight years. "I have no other place to go.”

HUE, VIETNAM—December 09, 2012-The walls of the Hope Centre, a small garment factory founded in 1999, are covered in peeling paint. The bedrooms where the workers live are basic: a handful of simple metal bed frames and a few personal possessions. The donated sewing machines are outdated.

“We get very little financial support and it is hard for us to get contracts and compete against other businesses that employ able-bodied workers,” explains Nguyen Thi Hong.

The 54-year-old founder of the centre employs disabled young people. They are, she believes, victims of the Agent Orange dumped on Vietnam’s jungles 40 years ago.

The problem is proving it.

Medical reports have found “compelling evidence” linking a rise in birth defects and miscarriages in Iraqi cities to toxic waste left over from years of fighting. But in this central Vietnamese city the cause-and-effect of modern disabilities and Vietnam War chemicals is not so clear. Or it is not accepted as clear.

Part of the issue is whether the American government and chemical manufacturers owe support and restitution to those suffering from bad health and deformities that appear to be linked to Agent Orange.

“Almost every one of the villages I visited in the six months I was setting up the centre had disabled young people because of Agent Orange,” says Nguyen. “This central area was heavily bombed by the Americans so a lot of children are now disabled, especially in the high mountain areas.” read more>>>

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