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April 01, 2006
WMD, USofA-style

Agent Orange: the legacy of a weapon of mass destruction

Thirty-five years after the US sprayed the jungles of Vietnam with toxic defoliant, thousands of babies are still being born with horrific defects. But unlike the American veterans, no one in the war-ravaged country has received any compensation. Jeremy Laurance reports from Ho Chi Minh City

Entering it is like stepping back 40 years to the days of Thalidomide, the morning-sickness pill prescribed in Britain in the 1960s that left babies hideously deformed. In the first room, cots line the walls. In one, a four-year-old girl rocks on all fours, gently banging her head against the bars. A nurse turns her round to reveal a face with no eyes. Under a thick fringe of dark hair, there are soft indentations in the skin either side of her nose, where her eyes should be. Above her cot a printed label gives her name as Tran Sinh, and her date of birth as 27 February 2002. According to the nurses she was born in an area heavily sprayed with Agent Orange, where the land is still contaminated 35 years after the spraying stopped.

I understand that the question of "reparations" is a tricky one, but on purely humanitarian (not to mention moral grounds), we should be doing something.

Vietnam is still with us. It will be with us as long as there are war victims on the planet. And more victims are being born every year.

Posted by AnneZook at 09:53 AM


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