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A girl flashes the peace sign while posing with her friend for a photograph at a center for children who have been affected by dioxin exposure in Hoa Nhon village, near Da Nang, Vietnam. The Da Nang Association of Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin says that more than 1,400 children around the city suffer from mental and physical disabilities because of dioxin exposure, a legacy of the U.S. military's use of Agent Orange and other herbicides during the Vietnam War more than 40 years ago. About 60 children attend the Hoa Nhon center each day. Many have mental disabilities, while others cannot hear or speak. It usually takes a year for a new child to interact with other children and make friends, says Phan Thanh Tien, the association's president. The Vietnam Red Cross estimates that 3 million Vietnamese suffer from illnesses related to dioxin exposure, including at least 150,000 people born with severe birth defects since the end of the war. The U.S. government is paying to clean up dioxin-contaminated soil at the Da Nang airport, which served as a major U.S. base during the conflict. But the U.S. government still denies that dioxin is to blame for widespread health problems in Vietnam and has never provided any money specifically to help the country's Agent Orange victims. May 29, 2012.
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