Search

 

Cablegate: Ford Foundation Grantees Host Agent Orange Disability Forum

VZCZCXRO8570
RR RUEHHM
DE RUEHHI #0037/01 0101008
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 101008Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY HANOI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6990
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 6135
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH 4144
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC//USDP/ISA/AP/ES//
RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI//J00/J005/J006/J01LA/J06/J5//
RHEHNSC/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HANOI 000037

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, EAP/EP, EAP/RSP, EAP/PD, OES/PCI
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR ANE, G/ENV
STATE PASS TO EPA/OIA (DENNIS CUNNINGHAM AND MARK KASMAN)
STATE PASS TO EPA/ORD (KEVIN TEICHMAN)
HHS/OSSI/DSI PASS TO OGHA (WSTIEGER/MLVALDEZ/CHICKEY), NIH: FIC
(RGLASS) AND NIEHS
CDC FOR OGHA (SBLOUT/KMCCALL), NCEH (TSINKS), NIOSH (MHSWEENEY)
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (TSHUBERT AND WVAN HOUTEN)
BANGKOK PASS TO RDM/A (OCARDUNER AND JPASCH)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL SENV TBIO KPAO VM
SUBJECT: FORD FOUNDATION GRANTEES HOST AGENT ORANGE DISABILITY FORUM


Ref: A. 2007 Hanoi 2113 B. 2007 Hanoi 1862

1. (U) Summary. On December 18, the Ford Foundation funded a
national disabilities workshop focusing on Agent Orange (AO) and its
contaminant dioxin. Various speakers highlighted the need for
collective Government of Vietnam (GVN) and international support for
the disabled suffering from war legacies, who the GVN claims are the
most physically and mentally challenged among the disabled
community. The Ford Foundation sponsored U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue
Group project and UNICEF are developing fund raising campaigns
targeting Americans to support these efforts. Ford Foundation
efforts to mainstream disabled Vietnamese, provided regardless of
the cause of those disabilities, supply needed care and services for
the disabled community. However, Vietnam requires greater public
health and environmental health expertise to guide the limited
resources currently mobilized to address this mainstreaming issue.
End Summary.

2. (U) On December 18, over 150 persons attended a "National
Conference on Disability in Vietnam: An Agent Orange Perspective,"
funded by the Ford Foundation and organized by the Institute for
Social Development Studies (ISDS), the Vietnam Union of Science and
Technology Organizations (VUSTO) and the U.S.-Vietnam Dialogue Group
on Agent Orange/Dioxin (DG). Presenters, all of whom received Ford
Foundation funds over the past year, included VUSTO, ISDS, DG, Ford
Foundation, Ministry of Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA),
UNICEF, Office 33, Vietnam Public Health Association (VPHA), VVAF,
East Meets West, and provincial representatives of people living
with disabilities in Dong Nai, Quang Nam, Danang and Thai Binh
provinces.

3. (U) The Ford Foundation and Aspen Institute's DG project supports
ten prominent American and Vietnamese citizens committed to
mobilizing (in both countries) public sentiment, political will and
financial support for the AO/dioxin issue, the "last remaining war
legacy." The group, led by former National Assembly official Madam
Ton Nu Thi Ninh and comprised of scientists, politicians, doctors
and opinion-makers, has four proposed objectives for 2008-2009: 1)
provide coordinated health, rehabilitation, education and vocational
training to AO victims and their families; 2) enhance capacity of
communities in response to the needs of AO victims and their
families receiving these services; 3) strengthen the professional
capacities of service providers; and 4) increase the national and
international dialogue on policy development and activities to
support AO victims and their families. These efforts will start in
Dong Nai/Ben Hoa in 2008 and later focus on Danang, Quang Nam, and
Thai Binh Provinces.

4. (U) In her opening remarks, Madame Ninh stated that U.S.-Vietnam
relations will not be "normal" until the AO issue is "resolved,"
that AO victims cannot wait for scientific evidence and need
immediate humanitarian support, and that environmental solutions to
clean up the hotspots will be very costly and "too big for the two
governments to solve alone." In his remarks, Dr. Charles Bailey
congratulated the GVN for recently signing the UN Convention on
Disabilities. He noted the association between AO/dioxin and
certain disabilities and reported that the Ford Foundation has
provided USD 4.2 million from 2002-2007 and would provide another
USD 7.5 million during 2008-2009 to "alleviate the consequences of"
AO. He noted the "positive steps" taken by the USG and GVN on war
legacies including the November 2006 Joint Statement by Presidents
Bush and Triet, State Department and EPA provision of USD 400,000
for technical assistance to support dioxin mitigation efforts in
Danang, and the "unprecedented support" from the U.S. Congress of
USD 3 million for dioxin-related environmental remediation and
health activities in Vietnam. However, Bailey said, "The Bush
Administration needs to move more briskly. This requires action.
And it requires action now."

5. (U) Director General Hoang of MOLISA noted that the United States
sprayed 72 million liters of AO during the war and claimed that AO
damages human health and causes genetic disorders and highlighted
GVN efforts to address these health effects of AO. Hoang stated
that the GVN is drafting a Law on Disabilities, which will codify

HANOI 00000037 002 OF 003


the UN Convention on Disabilities into Vietnamese Law and provide a
host of rights to Vietnamese disabled, including "Agent Orange
victims." The Law will be sent to the National Assembly in 2008.
Vietnam now provides entitlements of approximately VND 140,000/month
(less than USD 10/month) to those it identifies as AO victims, Hoang
reported, though it lacks standard criteria identifying who should
receive benefits.

6. (U) Ms. Caroline den Hulk, Communications Director of UNICEF
Vietnam, stated that 60 percent of "AO victims" are children. In
2007, the Ford Foundation provided USD 688,000 to the U.S. Fund for
UNICEF to raise awareness and leverage additional resources for
child disabilities in Vietnam. UNICEF plans to take a more
universal, rights-based approach to disabilities, instead of
focusing on causation, and will build institutional capacity for
social services at the national level as well as local levels,
starting in Danang.

7. (U) Dr. Le Ke Son, Director General of Office 33, which
coordinates GVN AO policy, provided a somewhat more confrontational
presentation than he normally gives to his U.S. Government
interlocutors. He referred to the U.S. defoliation campaign as "the
longest chemical warfare in human history." He presented a litany
of data: 74 million liters of herbicide sprayed; 18 million liters
removed during Pacer Ivy (NOTE: he did not explain that this was a
repatriation operation, not a spraying operation); 3.1 million
hectares of forest sprayed; 2.1 to 4.8 million people sprayed; and
human blood samples in Danang containing 3-4 times the allowable
limit for dioxin. Son acknowledged various causes for disabilities,
including physical, genetic and environmental causes (including
pesticides), but noted that data indicate an increased level of
disabilities for veterans in AO spray areas (26 percent) compared to
those who did not serve in spray areas (16 percent), asserting that
this is evidence that dioxin exposure led to these disabilities.
Dr. Son highlighted four GVN objectives: continued study of genetic
malformations; continued support for counseling people with high
dioxin concentrations to not have babies; systematic
characterization of the disabled; and mobilization of domestic and
international financial resources to support GVN efforts. He ended
his presentation with a photo of malformed fetuses in jars, claiming
that the deformities are the result of AO exposure.

8. (U) Dr. Tuyet Hanh of VPHA/Hanoi School of Public Health stated
that scientific data in the literature, combined with a knowledge,
attitudes and practices (KAP) study of dioxin exposure through food
in Bien Hoa and Dong Nai, show that most residents near the hotspots
knew almost nothing about dioxin, possible exposure pathways, its
possible impacts, and how to prevent human exposure. This
necessitates an intervention plan to raise awareness and reduce the
risk of dioxin exposure through food. Noting high percentages of
villagers who routinely viewed television or listened to the radio,
she suggested media campaigns to increase public awareness.

9. (SBU) COMMENT: The Ford Foundation's AO/Dioxin program has
successfully mobilized field-based humanitarian assistance programs
while encouraging other donors to ramp up disabilities rights-based
programming at the provincial and national levels (ref A). As this
effort matures, there should be opportunities to coordinate with
other groups and donors, including USAID implementing partners,
interested in disabilities work, which were visibly absent from this
so-called national conference. At the same time, presentations at
the seminar demonstrate that many persons involved in this issue do
not hold views consistent with those of the U.S. Government and were
unwilling or unable to focus on other sources of disabilities or
means to limit exposure to dioxin. We do not believe that providing
a high-visibility forum for unchallenged and possibly unsupported
assertions moves the issue forward, though it does accurately
reflect the opinions of many of the advocacy groups that focus on
Agent Orange/dioxin. Additionally, presenters failed to call for
the GVN to limit continued human exposure, including actions as
basic as preventing consumption of animals caught at "hotspots."
While we continue to make progress in normalizing this issue (Ref
B), we still need to be vigilant of unsupported claims about
AO/dioxin effects, while promoting cooperative efforts based on
sound science.

HANOI 00000037 003 OF 003

MICHALAK

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: