Skip to main content
Ref ID: 27939
Ref Type: Journal Article
Authors: Benson, Frederic C.
Title: Indochina war refugee movements in Laos, 1954-1975: a chronological overview citing new primary sources
Date: 2015
Source: Journal of Lao Studies
Abstract: This paper outlines the history of the relief and resettlement assistance program established by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to assist civilians displaced during the Second Indochina War in Laos. Many of the primary source materials cited in this paper can be found in a digitized collection of reports and documents that was recently made available in the University of Wisconsin’s Southeast Asian Images & Texts (SEAiT) digital collection. A fundamentally humanitarian undertaking, the USAID refugee program ultimately became a significant part of a larger, integrated political-military engagement, in which the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) played a significant role. The objective of this paper is to summarize the complexities of the USAID refugee program as it developed from January 1955, when the American embassy was opened in Vientiane, until the Second Indochina War came to an end and USAID was evicted from Laos in June 1975, the year in which the Lao Democratic People’s Republic (Lao PDR) was established. Viewed in historical and geographical contexts, population shifts within the hinterlands of Laos, which peaked during the war, continue into the present post-conflict period. This has been due in part to more recent interactions and struggles prompted by “political memories” of the Second Indochina War alignments, which have led, to an extent, to post-1975, anti-Lao PDR insurgencies and land (re)allocations that address security concerns and accommodate both foreign land-based investments and cross-border migrations.
Date Created: 4/14/2015
Page Start: 24
Page End: 63