Int’l conference of AO victims opens in Hanoi

Hundred of delegates from 25 countries and territories around the world gathered in Hanoi on August 8 for the second International Conference of Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin Victims in Vietnam.

The event was hosted by Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange /dioxin (VAVA) to mark 50 years of the AO catastrophe in Vietnam (Aug. 10, 1961-2011).

The second conference will hear statements of scientists, lawyers, victims of chemical war, AO victims, victims of terrible catastrophes in the past decade and also from activists who helped the victims. They will share experiences and discuss necessary actions to support the victims – especially the AO victims – to overcome their pain.

Addressing the opening, Chairman of VAVA Nguyen Van Rinh stressed that solving issues of AO toxicity was closely connected with expectations of people throughout the world who hoped to live in a healthy environment, saying that the issue was not only justice, but also related to a humanity, mediation and developmental ties between the nations that had been involved in past wars.

Many war pains had healed for both the Vietnamese and US peoples, however the AO pain had remained with a tenacious grip. Not only Vietnamese victims, but also millions of victims in other countries around the world had been bearing the consequences of the toxic chemical, Rinh said.

This was a ceaseless struggle for Vietnamese AO victims and progressive and peace-loving peoples worldwide. It was manifested by the launch of a range of activities from organisations dedicated to helping Vietnamese AO victims. The activities operated effectively and brought both moral and physical support to the victims, and also advocated for essential lawsuits.

Vietnamese people, especially AO victims, always respected and highly valued assistance from international friends in the issue, Rinh said. He added that the Vietnamese Government, with support of international organisations, built 17 health care and rehabilitation centres for victims, along with boarding centres and many other centres were also being built across the country.

At the conference, delegates raised their voices to support VAVA in obtaining legitimate justice for the victims.

Jeanne Mirer, President of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, coordinator of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign, affirmed that Vietnamese AO victims were pioneers in the fight for justice and compensation.

VAVA, with hundreds of thousands of members, showcased the strength and human dignity of all AO victims in the country, she said.

Within the framework of the conference, delegates will visit AO victims in the Friendship Village and also the exhibition and book week on AO.

The conference will close on August 9.

Source: VNA

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