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“The Virgin Mary Is Going South”

“The Virgin Mary Is Going South”

Refugee Resettlement in South Vietnam

(p.25) 1 “The Virgin Mary Is Going South”
Aid Under Fire
Jessica Elkind
University Press of Kentucky

This chapter examines US involvement in refugee resettlement schemes between 1954 and 1956.Refugee assistance served as a critical and formative experience for American nation builders in Vietnam and shaped the attitudes and approaches they took in their future projects.Although nearly one million northerners were absorbed into South Vietnam without causing major social or economic disruptions, there is little evidence that these people were integrated into their communities or that they enhanced Diem’s legitimacy and popularity, which were the key objectives of the effort.Despite these mixed results, many Americans claimed that refugee resettlement was a resounding success.The aid workers’ positive assessments of their achievements in helping the refugees and in cooperating with the South Vietnamese government created a misplaced sense of optimism and contributed to their naïveté about the possibility for effectivenation building in South Vietnam.

Keywords:   Refugee, Resettlement, Ngo Dinh Diem, Aid workers, Foreign aid

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