2004 Photo Contest, People in the News, 1st prize

Philip Blenkinsop

Agence Vu for Time

14 January, 2003

Crossing a river en route to the Hmong camp, Laos, which is in a section of jungle surrounded by government troops and landmines. The Hmong ethnic minority sided with the United States army during the Vietnam War and follow-up conflicts in Laos and Cambodia. Members of a CIA-backed militia, they assisted downed US pilots and disrupted North Vietnamese supply routes. As the US government stopped its support for the Hmong after the war, a third of the Hmong population is thought to have left the country, those remaining suffering the consequences of their support for the Americans. Many were forced to migrate to areas where they were unable to carry out their traditional occupation of agriculture, and isolated pockets are reported to be fighting a low-level guerilla war against the Lao government. The leader of the Xaisomboun camp of Hmong, Moua Toua Ther, recorded his group as numbering 7,000 people in 1975. Today there are around 800 left.

About the photographer

Philip Blenkinsop

This image is collected in