Belgian MPs Push for Draft Resolution to Back Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange

The Belgian friends from abroad have lovingly displayed their devotion to the victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam by advocating in the Belgian National Assembly for support of the Vietnamese AO victims.

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Belgian MPs Push for Draft Resolution Supporting Vietnamese AO victims
An overview of the hearing on a draft resolution in support of Vietnamese Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin. Photo: VNA

The Belgian Chamber of Representatives held a hearing on June 20 to discuss a draft resolution in support of Vietnamese Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin, according to a report by VNA.

The hearing was led by Els Van Hoof, the Head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Belgian Parliament, and was well-attended by numerous MPs.

At the session, Vietnamese Ambassador Nguyen Van Thao provided an overview of the policies, action programs, and plans for supporting war victims in Vietnam. He also highlighted the close collaboration between Vietnam and the US in resolving the consequences of war.

The management of AO issues requires international backing as well, praised the Belgian government and people for their cooperation and aid to Vietnam in resolving war legacies and national development over the years, through numerous successful programs and projects.

Pierre Gréga, President of the Belgium-Vietnam Friendship Association, visited Vietnam last March and expressed concern about the high number of Vietnamese children in areas contaminated with dioxin who are born with birth defects.

Stressing the importance of the draft resolution, Gréga underscored the need for its passage in order to expedite the comprehensive analysis of dioxin’s effects on both humans and the environment.

It is not only Vietnam’s problem but also a global issue, he emphasized.

Jan Haemers, CEO of Haemers Technologies, expressed that his company has had a collaborative partnership with the Vietnamese Ministry of National Defence since 2022 to address dioxin contamination in key areas. This collaboration has been facilitated with the assistance of the Belgian government.

Belgian MPs Push for Draft Resolution Supporting Vietnamese AO victims
At the hearing on a draft resolution in support of Vietnamese Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin. Photo: VNA

At the hearing, French writer André Bouny, who is a dedicated social activist for victims of AO/dioxin in Vietnam, eloquently detailed the ongoing consequences faced by these individuals as a result of toxic chemical exposure. Bouny has also provided unwavering support to Tran To Nga, a courageous victim of AO/dioxin, as she pursues legal action against 26 US industrial corporations believed to have manufactured and utilized these harmful substances during the Vietnam War.

André Flahaut, one of the five Belgian parliamentarians who proposed the draft resolution, told VNA correspondents in Brussels that he hopes the bill will be adopted this year on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Vietnam and Belgium. Flahaut believes that passing the bill would be a significant milestone in strengthening the bilateral relationship between the two countries. He also expressed optimism that the resolution will receive broad support from other members of the parliament. The proposed resolution aims to further enhance cooperation and collaboration in various sectors, including politics, economics, and culture, between Vietnam and Belgium.

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“Sharing Flahaut’s viewpoint, Els Van Hoof, the Chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Belgian Chamber of Representatives, highlights the urgency of increasing information efforts to garner international support. Specifically, she calls upon tech firms to join the cause and contribute to the cleanup of dioxin pollution in Vietnam.”

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The draft resolution is scheduled to be discussed by the Committee at the end of July and early August. Following the discussion, it will be presented to the House of Representatives at a plenary session in early October.

Once the draft resolution is approved, the Belgian parliament will be the first European legislature to support the issue, she stressed.

According to the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin (VAVA), the US army sprayed a staggering 80 million liters of toxic chemicals on the South of Vietnam between 1961 and 1971. Of this amount, 61% consisted of Agent Orange, a devastating herbicide containing 366kg of dioxin. The chemicals were sprayed across an extensive area of over 3.06 million hectares, which is equivalent to nearly one-quarter of the South’s total area. This massive contamination led to widespread health problems and environmental damage in the affected regions.

Preliminary statistics indicate that approximately 4.8 million Vietnamese individuals were exposed to Agent Orange (AO)/dioxin, with approximately 3 million individuals falling victim to its effects. The devastating consequences include tens of thousands of deaths, millions of people suffering from cancer and other incurable diseases, and numerous offspring experiencing birth deformities.

Hannah Nguyen