The Humanitarian Response
AGENT ORANGE IS NOT A QUESTION OF WHO IS RESPONSIBLE, LEGALLY OR MORALLY. IT IS SIMPLY A HUMANITARIAN NEED, TO RESTORE HOPE AND DIGNITY TO A DEVASTATED PEOPLE AND END THE LEGACIES OF WAR.
The Vietnamese government and its people, though per capita income is less than $2,000 USD a year, have played a central role in addressing the impacts of Agent Orange. Their collective efforts represent the determination that has grown in a country ready to heal its wounds from war:
The Vietnamese Government provides $230 million a year for services and monthly stipends to 350,000 Vietnamese affected by their or their parent’s exposure to herbicides used during the U.S. war in Vietnam as part of the War Martyr disability benefit program. Thousands of other victims of Agent Orange, with severe and particularly severe disabilities, receive monthly stipends from the Vietnamese government’s disability benefit program run by the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs.
The Vietnamese Government has also invested millions of dollars in reforestation projects to replant the mangroves and the Ma Da Forest, and to plant single species plantations of acacia and eucalyptus in the defoliated highlands to prevent further erosion.
The Vietnam Red Cross and the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange have raised millions for those believed to be affected by Agent Orange-Dioxin.
Up until 2010, the single largest contributor—other than the Vietnamese Government—to Agent Orange-related remediation efforts in Vietnam was the Ford Foundation. The Foundation invested more than $11 million over 10 years, including funding the Agent Orange Record, the U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group, and supporting Agent Orange-related programs in Vietnam.
The first U.S. Congressional appropriation for Agent Orange-related programs in Vietnam was in 2007 to “address the health needs of nearby communities” of “Vietnam conflict-era chemical storage sites.”
To date, the U.S. has appropriated $496.3 million for the remediation of Dioxin contaminated sites in Vietnam and health and disability programs. Three-quarters of this funding has been allocated for the clean-up of the Dioxin contamination in Da Nang and Bien Hoa.
Nearly $43 Million for the period of 2015-2023, supported both foreign and Vietnamese NGOs that are addressing the impact of Agent Orange and also expanding their services to include:
Inclusive and special education
Community based rehabilitation
Special surgery, prosthetic devices and other medical care
Training of physical and occupational therapists, and medical professionals
Early detection and early intervention of birth defects and disabilities
Micro-credit and income generation for poor families with ill or disabled family members
The most recent funding from the U.S. Government is supporting the Inclusion program between 2021 and 2026, with a budget of $65 million. The Inclusion Program has three main areas of focus:
Improving Policy Implementation
To introduce policy and strengthen laws that advocate for the inclusion of people with disabilities; give them access to education, jobs, and health care; and improve infrastructure and building codes to ensure accessibility.
Strengthening Service Provision
To improve the quality and access to rehabilitation and care services with a focus on physical, occupational, speech, and language therapies.
Supporting Home-Based Caregivers
To provide support to home-based caregivers by developing peer and professional psychological support and caregiver training to help improve the quality of care provided by caregivers to those with disabilities.
U.S. funding, originally earmarked for supporting people with disabilities regardless of cause, is now targeting “health and disability programs [that] assist persons with severe physical mobility, cognitive, or developmental disabilities.”