Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982

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Shipping: Free Within U. About this Item There have been many books written about the Vietnam war, and many about the refugees and the "boat people," but this is the first about the extraordinary and disparate group of people who committed to help them. This compelling story is told factually but also dramatically by a career diplomat, Larry Thompson, who witnessed some of the action and who later, as a post-diplomat , worked in crisis areas around the world as an advocate for refugees, who often had no other.

Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975-1982

It is a great story, and one of which Americans can well be proud. The true first edition was published as a PB original. Bookseller Inventory Ask Seller a Question. About this title Synopsis: The fall of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos to communist armies in caused a massive outpouring of refugees from these nations. | Running on Empty | | Michael Molloy | Boeken

Store Description Books First: Collectable modern American,British and international literary first editions; mysteries and crime; fiction and non-fiction on Vietnam; travel and adventure; and a smattering of oldies, history, politics, culture, poetry and humor. By the end of , Cambodia and Laos also were governed by totalitarian regimes. In Cambodia, on 17 April , the Khmer Rouge took the capital, Phnom Penh, along with other cities, thus ensuring their domination of the entire country.

Led by the ideologue Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge abolished private property, sent most of the population of the cities to work camps in the country, and persecuted ethnic and religious minorities. Out of a population of 8 million Cambodians, an estimated 1. The tense political situation, rapidly deteriorating living conditions and human rights violations in these countries triggered a vast wave of emigration.

With the encouragement of the government authorities, they began to leave Vietnam by boat. Many South Vietnamese, seeing no future for their children in the new Vietnam, decided to join the migration.


Over the ensuing decade, an estimated 3 million people thus left by sea or land for other countries of Southeast Asia. Over 1 million people departed Vietnam aboard unseaworthy makeshift vessels, hoping to reach international waters and be rescued there. But first they had to face huge risks — drowning, hunger, dehydration, attacks by pirates, sexual assaults and even murder. Some of the refugees who survived all these perils were then stuck for months in crowded refugee camps in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia, while others remained confined to their vessels because no country would allow them to land.

But it is now regarded as pejorative — an example of the kind of simplistic, racist language so often used in connection with refugees. It is most closely associated with the Vietnamese who left their country starting in and continuing into the s and who indeed accounted for the largest number of refugees from former Indochina at the time.

But the term is inaccurate when applied to Cambodian and Laotian refugees, who fled their countries mainly by land, and thus fails to reflect the ethnic diversity of this region. It should also be noted that large proportions of these refugees were of Chinese ethnic origin, including 40 per cent of the Vietnamese, 25 per cent of the Cambodians and 20 per cent of the Laotians admitted to Canada at that time. After the Second World War, Canada became more open to refugees.

In , Canada at last signed the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees , first approved in Countries that sign this Convention have an obligation to provide international protection to refugees. More specifically, these countries must make provisions to resettle refugees, and when their protection cannot be guaranteed in the country where they first seek refuge, consider their resettlement in a third country.

After signing the Convention in , Canada exercised flexibility in admitting refugees several times in the s: Tibetan refugees in , ethnic Asian refugees expelled from Uganda in and Chilean refugees in But in all of these cases, these refugees were admitted under exceptional measures see Immigration Policy in Canada.

When the Indochinese refugee crisis began, there was still no Canadian law recognizing refugees as a special category of immigrants.

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This changed in April , when the new Immigration Act , came into force. By including this definition in its immigration legislation, Canada clearly stated its intention to fulfill its legal obligation toward refugees. In several respects, the Hai Hong incident can be seen as a turning point in the Canadian response to the Southeast Asian refugee crisis. The Hai Hong was a ship that had sailed for Indonesia from Vietnam with 2, passengers on board its actual capacity was only 2, En route, the ship was blown off course and damaged in a typhoon.

When it attempted to land its passengers, first in Indonesia and then in Malaysia, both countries refused permission, on the grounds that these passengers — mostly Vietnamese of Chinese ethnic origin — had paid the Vietnamese authorities to be allowed to leave and hence were not refugees. After 17 days at sea, with its engine failing and practically no food or water left on board, the Hai Hong dropped anchor off Port Klang, Malaysia on 9 November Malaysia, which had not signed the UN Convention on the status of refugees but had already admitted over 35, refugees from Vietnam, threatened to tow the Hai Hong out to sea and abandon the passengers to their fate.

The plight of the Hai Hong galvanized the international community. The incident soon drew attention around the world, and Canadian newspapers began pressing the Canadian government to act. Aware that a quick response was needed and wanting to help, Canada faced a dilemma: if it admitted the passengers from the Hai Hong now, it would be giving them precedence over tens of thousands of refugees who had already spent months waiting in UN camps.

Exodus In Haiphong Continues (1955)

The countries that had signed the Convention had agreed to accept only 80, refugees so far. The fate of a significant number of refugees thus remained uncertain, and the pressure on the countries to which they were fleeing increased. In January and February , an additional 20, refugees mainly of Chinese ethnic origin left Vietnam, and the numbers kept growing in the months that followed: 13, arrived in March, 26, in April, 51, in May and 57, in June. In addition, that same April and May, between 50, and 80, Cambodians crossed the land border into Thailand, where they were joined by 10, fellow Cambodians of Chinese origin.

As of May , only 8, refugees from former Indochina had been resettled in the countries where they had first taken refuge; the international response had clearly been inadequate. Sixty-five countries attended, including Canada. On 18 July, a few days before the conference began, Canadian minister of External Affairs Flora MacDonald announced that Canada was increasing its target significantly and would be accepting 50, refugees by the end of , half of them through its new private sponsorship program.

The Canadian government quickly chartered 76 airplanes in order to transport 15, refugees by the end of In April , Canada increased its target again, announcing that it would be accepting 10, more people, for a total of 60, refugees accepted in Indochinese refugees accounted for 25 per cent of all new immigrants to Canada during this period, a proportion that has never been equalled since.

The successful resettlement of the Indochinese refugees was made possible by the combined efforts of the government of Canada, its civilian and military personnel, and private citizens who applied to sponsor individuals and families. Of the 60, Indochinese refugees admitted to Canada in and , about 26, were sponsored by the government. The remaining 34, were sponsored by the private sector or by members of their own families, which got the new private sponsorship program off to a great start.

Throughout the s, Canada continued to welcome Indochinese refugees. In total, some , Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians have been resettled in Canada — the highest rate per capita among all of the countries that have accepted such refugees. To help the new arrivals to integrate into Canadian society, orientation and education centres offer classes where they can learn English or French and take them on outings to familiarize them with the communities in which they now live.

In return, Canadians of Vietnamese , Cambodian and Laotian origin have enriched Canadian society by making important contributions in many spheres, including the economy, politics, the arts, science and sports. In the Census, , Canadians described themselves as being of Vietnamese ethnic origin, 34, of Cambodian or Khmer ethnic origin, and 22, of Laotian ethnic origin. In addition to these , people, there are a few tens of thousands of Canadians of Chinese ethnic origin who came to Canada from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.

Years after the Southeast Asian refugee crisis, Canada showed its generosity once more when it resettled over 40, Syrian refugees see Canadian Response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis. The episode in Canadian history known as the "boat people" refugee crisis has been commemorated in various ways.

Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982 Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982
Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982 Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982
Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982 Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982
Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982 Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982
Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982 Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982
Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982 Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982
Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982 Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982
Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982 Refugee Workers in the Indochina Exodus, 1975–1982

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