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11.9.7 35 Vietnamese refugees wait to be taken aboard the amphibious command ship USS BLUE RIDGE (LCC-19)

Vietnamese refugees being rescued from a 35 foot fishing boat 350 miles northeast of Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, after spending eight days at sea
Eggman, Phil
1984
Photograph

After the fall of Saigon and the Communist re-unification of Vietnam in the mid-1970s, many South Vietnamese citizens and people from neighboring Laos and Cambodia fled their homelands. Close to two million people became known as "boat people refugees" because they tried to sail across the Pacific Ocean on small boats. Some boats were rescued by large freighters; others stayed in the ocean for weeks or months at a time. Neighboring countries agreed that some of these refugees could live in camps there. Many more were resettled in other countries. By the 1990s, the United Nations estimated that more than 1.6 million Vietnamese people had left their homeland, hundreds of thousands of whom had moved to the United States.

After the fall of Saigon and the Communist re-unification of Vietnam in the mid-1970s, many South Vietnamese citizens and people from neighboring Laos and Cambodia fled their homelands. Close to two million people became known as "boat people refugees" because they tried to sail across the Pacific Ocean on small boats. Some boats were rescued by large freighters; others stayed in the ocean for weeks or months at a time. International organizations decried the rampant piracy, hunger, disease, and neglect that refugees experienced in fleeing their homelands. Neighboring countries agreed that some of these refugees could live in camps there. Many more were resettled in other countries. By the 1990s, the United Nations estimated that more than 1.6 million Vietnamese people had left their homeland, hundreds of thousands of whom had moved to the United States. Ask your students to make connections between the Cold War justifications for the prolonged war in Vietnam, the effects of the war on the displaced population of the country, and the refugee population. The question, How did the war transform the refugee population in the United States? can help students understand these connections.