For half a century (ever since the Japanese invasion of 1942), much of Southeast Asia has been racked by war. In the last 20 years alone, some three million people fled their homes in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. This book is their story. It is also the story of the international community‘s response. Spearheading this was the United Nations agency responsible, UNHCR. It pioneered innovations like the Orderly Departure Programme, anti-piracy and rescue-at-sea efforts, and later on, ambitious reintegration projects for returnees. Today the camps in Southeast Asia are closed. Half a million people have returned home. Over two million have started new lives in the United States, Canada, Australia and France.
This compelling book is the history of this modern exodus. It also takes stock and poses important questions. How did the flight of refugees and international response evolve? How do we measure the achievements and the failures of that international effort? What has been the legacy in Asia itself? And what lessons can be drawn for use in other refugee situations around the world?