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Agent Orange cause needs NZ support

31 March 2006

Agent Orange cause needs NZ support

Prime Minister Helen Clark's stand against the Viet Nam war should inspire her to take up of cause of the many people still suffering from its consequences, Green Party MP Sue Kedgley says.

Ms Kedgley, who has just returned from the first international conference of victims of Agent Orange, held in Hanoi, is urging the New Zealand Government to support an appeal issued there by the delegates.

Ms Kedgley says she believes the Government should also support a lawsuit, to be further heard in New York next month, filed by victims of Agent Orange against the companies that manufactured the chemicals involved.

"Having fought alongside the Americans in the Viet Nam war, New Zealand has a moral responsibility to help solve the enormous problems that were created, in particular the suffering of millions of Vietnamese who were exposed to Agent Orange."

The appeal, from the victims and their supporters, and scientists from Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia, Switzerland, the United States and Viet Nam, urges international support for those still suffering the effects.

It also expresses its support for the New Zealand Viet Nam veterans who are suffering health effects from exposure to Agent Orange, and their fight for justice, and identifies the need for policies which recognise and compensate them.

"It is important that in New Zealand the Wintringham report, that was to have been completed today, is concluded as soon as possible and made
public, so that we can bring closure to the issue here.

"The appeal also refers to people, such as those living in New Plymouth, who connect their illnesses with the manufacture and use of Agent Orange and other toxic defoliants.

"I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister, who protested against the Vietnam War, will ensure her Government raises the issue internationally and puts pressure on the Americans to finally compensate the million odd victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam."

New Zealand was represented at the conference by Ms Kedgley and Viet Nam veteran Roger Bush.


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