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Lethal impact

Print edition : Sep 23, 2011 T+T-

The U.S. military used Agent Orange and other herbicides from 1961 to 1971 reportedly to save the lives of U.S. and allied soldiers by defoliating dense vegetation in the Vietnamese jungles and thereby reducing the chances of ambush. In the process, at least three million hectares of forests, mangroves and cultivable land were contaminated with toxins, and about 4.8 million Vietnamese were exposed to the effects of the dioxin-laced Agent Orange of whom at least three million were affected. As a result, over 400,000 of them have since died and about 500,000 children have been born with serious birth defects ranging from acute physical deformities to extreme mental disabilities or a combination of both. A large number of U.S. and allied soldiers, who had served in Vietnam, have also met with a similar fate. Justice continues to be denied to them.

In addition, the former U.S. military bases in Vietnam, where the herbicides were stored and loaded on to airplanes for spraying, are suspected to contain high levels of dioxin in the soil, which continue to pose a threat to the surrounding communities.