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Decades after war in Laos, Hmong refugees build new lives in US

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LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 23:  Exhausted Hmong refugees get ready to board a bus for Fresno after arriving on the first chartered aircraft carrying 289 Hmong passengers to the Los Angeles airport on August 23, 2004 in Los Angeles California. Thousands of Hmong refugees who fled Laos for Thailand 30 years ago are preparing for a new life in America after the U.S government announced it was launching a resettlement program for up to 15,000 Hmong living in the refugee camp northeast of Bangkok. The actual movement of the Hmong from the camp to their new home, including medical screening, and necessary cultural orientation classes is facilitated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The Hmong who often live on the margins of society in Thailand have had many problems with food, health and education because of lack of money. Since the migration started, over 1,500 Hmong have departed so far to America. The historical migration to the USA will finally close a painful chapter for many of the refugees who had sought safety in Thailand after the Vietnam war where as many as 40,000 Hmong were fighting for the Americans in Laos.  (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)
Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 23: Exhausted Hmong refugees get ready to board a bus for Fresno after arriving on the first chartered aircraft carrying 289 Hmong passengers to the Los Angeles airport on August 23, 2004 in Los Angeles California. The historical migration to the USA will finally close a painful chapter for many of the refugees who had sought safety in Thailand after the Vietnam war where as many as 40,000 Hmong were fighting for the Americans in Laos.

The Vietnam war was felt far beyond its borders. The conflict spilled into neighboring countries and forced around 100,000 Hmong to the US from across Southeast Asia.

The effect of the Vietnam war was felt far beyond its borders. The conflict spilled into neighboring countries and forced many to make a home elsewhere. Around 100,000 Hmong came to the US from across Southeast Asia.

They were part of a wave of refugees who fled when communists gained control in Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam 40 years ago.

Seattle became the focus of a large Hmong community. Many survived growing and selling flowers at the famous Pike Street Market.

From Seattle public station KUOW, Liz Jones has this story on the Hmong who have made the Northwest their home – growing and selling tulips, dahlias, and peonies.

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