Vietnam: Lepers Say They Fear Eviction


Hundreds of leprosy suffers are being evicted from their village on a small island to make way for a new holiday resorts and casino.

Villagers said yesterday they now fear for the future, with many wondering about their livelihoods and the prospect of discrimination by people already living in the area where they are being relocated.

Nguyen Van Xung, 74, village head of Hoa Van said 319 villagers are to be relocated from the island, which lies 16 kilometers off the coast of Da Nang, to a village on the mainland called Hoa Hiep Nam in Lien Chieu district at the end of this month.

Xung said despite promises by Da Nang City authorities to compensate them, rehouse them and to provide vocational training and medical care, “we are worried sick because we do not know what to do for a living when we move there.”

Island residents currently grow crops, raise poultry and cattle, and catch fish for a living, he added.

“We also fear we get a hostile reception by other people at the new place,” Xung said, adding that many local people still fear leprosy and stay away from sufferers.

John Ngo Minh Ha, 40, a former sufferer, said people who have already moved are being treated badly by locals.

He said his children are ignored or bullied by their new classmates at school.

Leprosy sufferers have been living on the island since 1968 and receive regular visits from the Daughters of Our Lady of the Visitation nuns from Hue City who give them medicine, food, clothes and blankets every three months.

UCA News

The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News, UCAN) is the leading independent Catholic news source in Asia. A network of journalists and editors that spans East, South and Southeast Asia, UCA News has for four decades aimed to provide the most accurate and up-to-date news, feature, commentary and analysis, and multimedia content on social, political and religious developments that relate or are of interest to the Catholic Church in Asia.

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