Homes for 100,000 refugees
1 N the southern Vietnam capital of Saigon, where 20,000
refugees have arrived by sea and air from the Communist north, Bishop Pham Ngoc Chi, Vicar Apostolic of Bui-chu, is starting work this week on the construction of 40 villages for the resettlement of about 100,000 of the displaced population.
The Government has given him nearly 5,000 acres between XuanLoc and Bien-Hoa and the construction will bo carried out with Government co operation and American aid.
Each village will hold about 2,500 people.
"So that the evacuees will not sink into inaction," says the Bishop, "and above all to enable them to earn their own living, we shall engage them to labour on the construction work.
"Each village will have its own school, infirmary and water well. We hope eventually to be able to install electric lighting.
Homes for all
"I want to make it clear that these villages will not be organised exclusively for Catholics but will be there for all evacuees without distinction of class and religion. The work must start at once."
The battle of evacuation is working out better than French observers originally expected. But the numbers arriving in Saigon are still far short of the figure of nearly 1,000,000 needed if the elections are to be won by the antiCommunists in two years' time.
But there is time yet—and tens of thousands of evacuees are said to be waiting in the north for their turn to be taken below the 17th Parallel.
Celebrating the ninth anniversary of his proclamation of the Vietnam Republic as an independent democracy, Ho Chi Minh, the Communist leader, said last week that the mission of Vietminh will not have been accomplished until the peace is consolidated, the whole country is unified, and the country's independence and national democracy perfected.
He reiterated his order that the property of foreigners, including that of French nationals presumably, should he respected.
He said that officials who worked for his adversaries may be reinstated if they "are desirous of serving the people."
And he insisted that national policy must be favourable to commercial employers as well as to the State and the working classes.
French commentators attribute Ho Chi Minh's apparent moderation to a fear that "too much agitation, too blatant propaganda, or too brutal success" may provoke his enemies to try to prevent the elections or even to take up arms again.
In the north the Communists continue to menace those who seek to enrol themselves for evacuation. Every family is compelled to reveal the details of all its possessions, even down to the odd pair of old slippers.
In Nam Dinh the electricity is believed to have been cut so as to prevent the people from listening to the radio. And girls whose hair was found to be wavy have been compelled to walk through the streets with shorn heads.
Knowing they would inevitably share the fate of their brethren at Thanh-Hoa--people's tribunals and imprisonment—if they stayed in the north, at least half the Vietnam clergy have moved south of the 17th Parallel.
All the Catholic schools of Hanoi and Haiphong have been evacuated as have most of the Young Christian Workers and Christian trade unionists.