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Vietnam WAR: The Migrating Ripple

By Carmina Osuna

I’ve never been a person that has been interested in the history of wars or anything that has to do with violence. This is mainly because I have a week stomach for the kinds of things that coincide with war. 

After arriving in Vietnam most of my friends had gone to visit the Museum of War Remnants of what is known to us as the Vietnam War and to the Vietnamese as the American War.  When they returned many had mixed emotions of sadness and regret for going.  To some, their reasoning was that the museum was really gory and to others it reminded them of when their fathers served.  This is not say that some didn’t really enjoy looking at the war through the “opponent’s” perspective.Photo

Ultimately I decided to go to the museum and when I stepped in the first things I saw were the left over U.S. Air force planes, and the U.S. army’s tanks, guns, and bombs.  I was shocked to see this mainly because I didn’t expect to see U.S. owned war objects in Vietnam.  It all began to fall into perspective after a few pictures of the devastation of both Vietnam and its’ people.  It was after I started to walk to the ship when I began thinking of the war as the beginning point of a migration ripple.

In class we discussed some of the policies and world feelings towards refugees and asylum seekers.  The people who are refugees and asylum seekers fall into the category of “forced migrants” rather than “voluntary migrants.”  Stephen Castles and Mark J. Miller’s book, The Age of Migration, informs us that “the U.S. military presence in Korea, Vietnam and other Asian forged transnational links… [proving that] the Vietnam War caused large scale refugee movements” (155).

After the Vietnamese War, over 3 million people fled from Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Over a million of those who settled in the U.S never returned home.  When Vietnam introduced the ‘Orderly Departure Program,’ which permitted legal emigration primarily to those with family abroad, gave way to one of the two “largest Asian enduring exoduses since 1945” (172).  According to the World Refugee Survey from 2006 Out of 12 million refugees and asylum seekers 7.89 million have been in refugee warehouses for five years or more.  Vietnam is ranked as one of the top ten countries with the greatest number of refugees and asylum seekers with 305,500 people.  The approximate ratio between the population of the U.S. and the refugee population is 1:1678. Photo

The war museum definitely opened my eyes not only to the bias of American media but to the suffering and harm that war creates.  Even with all this I still don’t understand why most refugees are treated with such violence and put into camps when they’ve gone through enough suffering already.


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