Sat, Nov 11, 2006 - Page 5 News List

US groups to study the effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam

AFP , HANOI

US groups have announced plans to study Vietnam's wartime contamination with toxic defoliant Agent Orange and with millions of unexploded bombs and land mines, officials said yesterday.

The Ford Foundation said yesterday that it had committed US$2.2 million to study environmental hazards related to the dioxin in Agent Orange and bring health services to Vietnamese living with long-term disabilities.

"Grants will support research to help identify dioxin `hot spots,' pilot projects to develop new clean-up technologies, and survey research and public health programs," the group said.

US forces widely sprayed Agent Orange in southern Vietnam during the conflict that ended in 1975 to deprive enemy guerrillas of cover and food.

Vietnam says that millions of people have suffered a range of illnesses and birth defects as a result, a claim also made by many war veterans from the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Korea.

"In Vietnam there is a real desire to make progress on these issues among everyone concerned," said Charles Bailey, head of the foundation in Hanoi.

Separately, the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF) yesterday signed an agreement with Vietnam's defense ministry to extend a five-year-old US government funded survey of unexploded ordnance.

According to Vietnamese data 350,000 to 850,000 tonnes of bombs, artillery shells, mortars and rockets remain scattered across the country, VVAF said.

Tom Leckinger, the group's representative, said cooperation between the former enemies "to clear the land of the deadly legacies of the war sends a very powerful message of peace, friendship and reconciliation between our nations."

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