Wikipedia:Today's featured article/April 26, 2009

Vietnamese refugees board an LST for their journey from Haiphong to Saigon

Operation Passage to Freedom was the term used by the United States Navy to describe its transportation of 310,000 Vietnamese civilians, soldiers and non-Vietnamese members of the French Army from the communist North Vietnam to South Vietnam. The French military transported a further 500,000. In the wake of the French defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, the Geneva Accords of 1954 decided the fate of French Indochina after eight years of war between French Union forces and the Viet Minh, which sought Vietnamese independence. The accords resulted in the partition of Vietnam at the 17th parallel, with Ho Chi Minh's communist Viet Minh in control of the north and the French-backed State of Vietnam in the south. The agreements allowed a 300-day period of grace, ending on May 18, 1955, in which people could move freely between the two Vietnams before the border was sealed. Between 600,000 and one million northerners fled communist rule, while between 14,000 and 45,000 civilians and approximately 100,000 Viet Minh fighters moved in the opposite direction. The mass emigration of northerners was facilitated primarily by the French Air Force and Navy. American naval vessels supplemented the French in evacuating northerners to Saigon, the southern capital. The operation was accompanied by a large humanitarian relief effort, primarily bankrolled by the United States. (more...)

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