Orphans of Agent Orange: 50 years on children suffer from effects of U.S chemical weapons in Vietnam War

These photos show orphans suffering from the horrific effects of America's use of chemical weapons during the Vietnam War.

The children were born decades after U.S. forces sprayed the herbicide dioxin, Agent Orange, over large areas of jungle in the 1960s.

But they are still battling the effects of the chemical today - including physical deformities and mental disorders.

The shocking images were taken by American photographer Matt Lief Anderson, 30, at an orphanage outside of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

Abandoned by their parents, 20 children can be seen living side by side in one room, each confined to a small metal bed with just a rug covering the bars.

They are suffering from a range of physical deformities caused by Agent Orange, including missing or under-developed limbs and extremely curved spines.

Some are deaf, blind and mute, while others have been bed-ridden for most of their young lives.

During his time at the orphanage, Mr Anderson met and took photos of children as young as 18-months-old.

'The children are living in terrible conditions and suffering from a gamut of afflictions caused by chemicals that my country used against them,' he said.

'Americans are the ones responsible, but we aren't giving any aid to the country at all. I felt horrible photographing these poor children.'

During the Vietnam War, between 1962 and 1971, the U.S. military sprayed nearly 20 million gallons of material containing chemical herbicides and defoliants mixed with jet fuel over parts of Vietnam, eastern Laos and Cambodia.

Agent Orange is the combination of the code names for Herbicide Orange and Agent LNX - one of the herbicides and defoliants used as part of its chemical warfare program, Operation Ranch Hand.

The program's goal was to destroy forested and rural land - depriving guerrilla fighters of cover while cutting off their food supply.

But its devastating effects continue to this day - with many deformed children forced to live a life of destitution on the streets or in low-funded orphanages.

Mr Anderson, from Illinois, said he was shocked that the U.S. government 'has not offered any aid' to victims of the chemical attack.

'The official stance is that there isn't enough evidence to link the health problems to America's use of chemicals like Agent Orange,' he said.

'Most children with these issues go into adoption or are forced into a life on the streets. The orphanages have very low funds and rely on donations for food and clothing and are unable to give proper training to the staff.

'Most of my photos are different to this series, and they receive an overwhelming positive response. But these photos get an entirely different reaction. People don't want to see how bad it is.'

According to the Vietnam Red Cross, about one million Vietnamese people have been affected by Agent Orange, including 150,000 children who have suffered from birth defects, CNN reported.

The U.S. government, however, has dismissed these figures as unreliable and exaggerated.

Among the illnesses contracted by people exposed to the dioxin are non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, cancer, type 2 diabetes, soft tissue sarcoma, birth defects in children, spina bifida and reproductive abnormalities.

Last year, the Association for Victims of Agent Orange in Ho Chi Minh City filed its fourth lawsuit against American chemical companies that produced Agent Orange.

Music : Dama-May by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Source : DailyMail , CNN