Sci-tech

Politics, Sci-Tech

Agent Orange still code red for Vietnamese

Agent Orange still code red for Vietnamese

This month marks 50 years since the use of Agent Orange in Vietnam. Its effects linger on for the Vietnamese, but the US is still dragging its heels on compensation – despite the fact that  US army veterans who claim they were affected by the herbicide have received payouts totalling billions of dollars. By REBECCA DAVIS.

It’s estimated that the use of Agent Orange to destroy the Vietnamese countryside resulted in the deaths of more than 400,000 Vietnamese, and caused another 500,000 children to be born with birth defects.

The US government has to date paid out around $2, 2 billion in compensation to about 89,000 veterans of the US military who filed Agent Orange-related claims. Vets who suffer health problems like prostate cancer and diabetes believe their health problems are linked to the fact that they were stationed at bases in Vietnam close to where Agent Orange was sprayed.

Yet this is in stark contrast to that government’s approach towards the Vietnamese affected by the defoliant and herbicide. In 2004 a group called the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange filed a lawsuit against several chemical companies which produced the defoliant for the military. The US government itself could not be sued, due to sovereign immunity. The case was dismissed. In 2007 the Second Circuit Court of Appeals heard the appeal, and upheld the original judge’s ruling. They said that although Agent Orange contained a known poison, a variant of tetrachlorodibenzodioxin, it was not intended to be used as a poison on humans, and could not therefore be considered a chemical weapon. As a result, its use did not constitute a violation of international law.

Last year the US-Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin released a report calling for the US government to provide $300 million to expand services to people with Agent Orange-related disabilities. In the current economic climate, it’s highly unlikely they’ll get their way. DM



Read more:

Photo: REUTERS

Gallery

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

X

This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.


Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options