DA NANG, Vietnam – The frail bodies of Toan La and his brother sat
paralyzed against a wall to prop up their crooked spines, one of many
ailments thought to be inherited from their grandfather’s exposure to
Agent Orange – a toxic herbicide widely used during the Vietnam War.
Born normal, the Vietnamese brothers grew mysteriously weak as young
children and their health has since decayed from a crippling
Now aged 18 and 22, they are nearly immobile and spend much of their
lives stuck inside one room, watching their muscles wither away.
“I am like a baby. I cannot move, take care of myself or do anything
that I want,” said Toan, the oldest brother. “I feel that life is so
meaningless and I have no more purpose.”
Roughly three million people including 150,000 children born with
birth defects have been affected by Agent Orange, according to the
Vietnam Red Cross.
As a result, the country’s rate of birth defects has quadrupled after the controversial war.
From 1961 to 1971, the U.S. military sprayed almost 20 million gallons
of Agent Orange and similar noxious chemicals over almost a quarter of
southern Vietnam to strip foliage and deny communist fighters cover.
Activists claim it was the largest chemical warfare campaign ever conducted.
“The consequences that it left behind are the most severe in the
history of mankind,” said Ha Thi Mac, one of the deputy directors for
the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA).
Dioxin, a key ingredient in the herbicides, is linked to a myriad of
reproductive and development issues as well as other severe health
problems in Vietnamese people and U.S. veterans who served in the war.
The deadly substance can have a lifespan of more than 100 years and still pollutes food and water sources, researchers say.
Despite the evidence, the “U.S. government has never accepted
responsibility for the damage it caused to the people and the
environments in Vietnam,” Mac said.
READ MORE: http://thediplomat.com/2014/07/agent-orange-legacy-scourges-vietnam/