Indochina - Evacuation of Refugees from North Viet-Nam: Statement Released by the White House, August 22, 1954(1)

The cease-fire agreement which terminated hostilities in Viet-Nam provided that persons on either side of the dividing line, which is roughly at the 17th parallel of latitude, would be free to move to places of their own choice. Very soon all of North Viet-Nam, which includes the Delta of the Red River otherwise known as Tonkin, will be handed over provisionally to the Viet Minh Government of Ho Chi Minh.

Thousands of refugees of Tonkin, fearful of being placed under the Communist yoke, are moving outward to Free Viet-Nam. The French Government has offered transport to these evacuees, and both the French Navy and Air Force are doing what they can to carry out this movement.

The French Air Force is presently lifting approximately 3,400 evacuees a day from airfields at Hanoi and Haiphong to the Saigon area. Likewise the French Navy is carrying refugees and at the same time transporting French expeditionary forces to Saigon.

However, the number of refugees has so increased that both the French authorities and Vietnamese Government have asked additional assistance of the United States in transporting these Vietnamese citizens who prefer to give up their homes in order to remain free.

The United States promptly agreed to their request.(2) The French and Vietnamese authorities retain complete responsibility for the care of Vietnamese citizens who choose to leave the Delta area. The United States is providing ships to help transport refugees and, in addition, is furnishing some tentage and other supplies to better enable the French and Vietnamese officials ashore to take care of the refugees.

It is estimated that at least 200,000 civilian refugees must be moved from Hanoi or Haiphong before September 10.

The Commander in Chief, Pacific, Admiral Felix Stump, has instructed the Fifth Amphibious Group of the Western Pacific Fleet to assist in the transportation from Haiphong to points in South and Central Viet-Nam a total of between 80,000 and 100,000 refugees. The majority of refugees will probably be moved by LST's. In order to help expedite this movement, however, transport vessels and commercial freighters of the Military Sea Transport Service were dispatched earlier under the command of Rear Admiral Lorenzo Sabin and are already loading refugees at Haiphong. Several thousands of Vietnamese have already been evacuated by this service.

Fortunately, Free Viet-Nam is a country with ample land resources for the resettlement of almost any number of Vietnamese who desire to flee from Communist domination. In the rich rice lands of the Mekong River Delta and the high lands of South Viet-Nam there is surplus land where the Tonkinese farmers can reestablish new homesteads and work out new lives in freedom.

The United States will continue to assist the Vietnamese Government, headed by Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem, in their humanitarian endeavor to bring the Vietnamese to Free Viet-Nam.

It is noteworthy that, although Vietnamese from Tonkin are clamoring to leave the area, soon to be under Communist rule, no Viet Minh adherents from Free Viet-Nam have clamored to be transported north to settle in that area under the Government of Ho Chi Minh.

(1) Department of State Bulletin, Sept. 6, 1954, pp. 336-337. Back

(2) See American note of Aug. 8, 1954. Back

American Foreign Policy 1950-1955
Basic Documents Volumes I and II
Department of State Publication 6446
General Foreign Policy Series 117
Washington, DC : U.S. Governemnt Printing Office, 1957

127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.