Vietnamese boat people

Refugees who fled Vietnam by boat / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Vietnamese boat people (Vietnamese: Thuyền nhân Việt Nam) were refugees who fled Vietnam by boat and ship following the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. This migration and humanitarian crisis was at its highest in 1978 and 1979, but continued into the early 1990s. The term is also often used generically to refer to the Vietnamese people who left their country in a mass exodus between 1975 and 1995 (see Indochina refugee crisis). This article uses the term "boat people" to apply only to those who fled Vietnam by sea.

Vietnamese boat people awaiting rescue.

The number of boat people leaving Vietnam and arriving safely in another country totaled almost 800,000 between 1975 and 1995. Many of the refugees failed to survive the passage, facing danger from pirates, over-crowded boats, and storms. According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, between 200,000 and 400,000 boat people died at sea.[1] The boat people's first destinations were Hong Kong and the Southeast Asian locations of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Tensions stemming from Vietnam's disputes with Cambodia and China in 1978 and 1979 caused an exodus of the majority of the Hoa people from Vietnam, many of whom fled by boat to China.[2][3]

The combination of economic sanctions, the legacy of destruction left by the Vietnam War, policies of the Vietnamese government, and further conflicts with neighboring countries caused an international humanitarian crisis, with Southeast Asian countries increasingly unwilling to accept more boat people on their shores. After negotiations and an international conference in 1979, Vietnam agreed to limit the flow of people leaving the country. The Southeast Asian countries agreed to admit the boat people temporarily, and the rest of the world, especially more developed countries, agreed to assume most of the costs of caring for the boat people and resettle them in their countries.

From refugee camps in Southeast Asia, the great majority of boat people were resettled in more developed countries. Significant numbers resettled in the United States, Canada, Italy, Australia, France, West Germany, and the United Kingdom. Several tens of thousands were repatriated to Vietnam, either voluntarily or involuntarily. Programs and facilities to carry out resettlement included the Orderly Departure Program, the Philippine Refugee Processing Center, and the Comprehensive Plan of Action.