Fifty years after it began using the highly toxic Agent Orange in Vietnam, the US has begun a clean-up operation in the country.
The project is a joint effort, and the work has begun near a former US military base, one of the most contaminated sites.
Agent Orange was used as a defoliant, to make it easier to fight in Vietnam’s dense jungles, but the impact on humans was devastating.
Virginia Palmer from the US Embassy in Vietnam said: “I think it’s fair to say that dioxin contamination and Agent Orange was one of the single most neuralgic (painful) issues in the US-Vietnam relationship. So the fact that we’ve been working together for five years to find joint solutions to the environmental problems in particular and to work together on health issues is hugely important.”
And those looking after the victims of Agent Orange stress that money should not only go towards decontamination of the countryside.
Nguyen Thi Hien, Director of the Centre for Victims of Agent Orange, said: “Cleaning up the environment and taking care of the Agent Orange victims should be parallel and balanced. By doing so, the pain of the Agent Orange victims could be relieved.”
Agent Orange has been linked to illnesses including cancer, as well as birth defects. Experts say up to three million people have suffered health problems after exposure to the substance.