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Delivering Health Care in Cambodian Refugee Camps, 1979-1980
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Delivering Health Care in Cambodian Refugee Camps, 1979-1980
by Charlotte J. Knaub

People would rather forget. The years of United States involvement in Southeast Asia, the Viet Nam years, ended for most Americans in 1975. For the Cambodian people, whose history seems an endless succession of wars, occupations, and sufferings, 1975 marked the beginning of an era of terror unknown in previous times.

Khmer Rouge soldiers overthrew the corrupt regime of Lon Noi. Literally overnight, whole populations of Cambodian cities were ordered to move to the countryside, under the ruse that America was going to bomb them. The Khmer Rouge tortured and starved the people. Death from disease, malnutrition, and execution were rampant in what became known as the killing fields.

When the horrors of Pol Pot and his regime were followed by the Vietnamese invasion, thousands of surviving Khmers, rather than live under the rule of their traditional enemies, fled and crossed Thailand’s borders.

In 1979, Charlotte J. Knaub was a public health nursing consultant with the Montana State Department of Health when she was offered a three-month contract to work in Thailand’s refugee camps. As she became aware that the relief operations reflected the unique opportunity for people around the world to join together in relieving the suffering and meeting the desperate needs of the Cambodian refugees, she determined to remain a part of it. Her three-month assignment was extended to thirteen months. This is a memoir of those life-changing events.
 
 
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