Lighter than Orange | DocFilm | DW | 26.11.2015
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Lighter than Orange

Four million people are still suffering long-term effects from the herbicide Agent Orange. What memories do the Northern Vietnamese war veterans have of the events and how do they cope with the trauma today?

During the Vietnam War (1955-1975), the US used Agent Orange to destroy forests and crops. This hindered the enemy guerilla movement NFL (or “Viet Cong”) who used the thick jungle foliage as camouflage, and it also cut off their food supply. Agent Orange was sprayed over large areas from airplanes and helicopters. Millions of people suffered serious changes to their genetic material as a result of the dioxin contained within the substance. Even today, soil and groundwater are still contaminated in the affected areas. Many babies are stillborn or have severe, lifelong afflictions.

The fate of the victims

25.11.2015 DW Doku Lighter-Than-Orange 3

Veterans on the balcony in “Friendship Village” in Hanoi, founded by a former US soldier for the victims of the Vietnam War.

The film Lighter than Orangereveals the consequences of this political failure as told by the victims. Northern Vietnamese veterans share their memories of the war and the traumatic effects of Agent Orange. Being exposed to the dioxin during the Vietnam War changed their DNA, resulting in incurable diseases and deformities which their children still suffer today.

25.11.2015 DW Doku Lighter-Than-Orange4_

Dó Du’c Diu mourns at the grave of his 12 deceased children.

Endless trauma

Since his return from the war, Há Ngoc Phúc has lived with his wife in the province of Phu Tho. Their child was born with malformations and died shortly afterwards. After their second child suffered the same fate, they mutually decided to remain childless for the rest of their lives. Dó Du’c Diu and his wife are also still suffering the effects. Of their fifteen children, only three survived. Years passed before they found out this was the result of the herbicide, Agent Orange, that they were subjected to during the war. They were completely unaware of its dangers to human health. Their stories are representative of the millions of victims affected.

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