World War II China: Refugees--Numbers

Figure 1.--This heart-rending photograph of a Chinese boy refugee careing for his baby brother was taken by an American airman in Kunming, Yunnan -- the Nationalist war-time capital. I think he is motioning that he is hungry. The boy does not look much older than 7-7 years old. The idea of a boy tht age vreing forhis bavy brother amist the chaos of war and dreadyl food shortages is mind bggling. And he even has a smile on his face. The children are in rags, but it seems that unlike many refugees that they have obtaind some acces to food. Notice the document in his hand. That might be an identity card entiling them to food. We suspect that children like this learned that the americans weee a soft touch. Photographer: Sergeant Marvin Lawrence who was a photographer attached to the ATC (Air Transport Command) and served in China, Burma, and India (CBI).

The number of refugees and homeless in China was larger than any other World War II beligerent country, including the Soviet Union. There are no definitive data for the numbers of people involved, refugees, other displced people, and the special Chinese categories. There are various estimates of the dispossed. One 1947 study estimated the number of Chinese refugees and homeless at about 13 million. This is only an estimare, but clearly shows the order of magnitude of the problem. And this does not include those who remained in their home, but who were in desperate need of food. Large but unknown numbers of the refugees perished because of lack of food, safe water, shelter, and medical care. The American report stated that, "Starvation and sickness killed more children and then left the survivors nore enfeebled in China than in any other invaded country. Very young children and the elderly werespecially vulnerable among the rfugee population. In some cases families were able to stay together. In many cases they were separatd. Men and older boys were often targeted by the Japanese or conscripted by the Nationalists and Chinese armies. Many children were separated from their mothers as well as orphaned. This study reports tht some 2 million orphans wandered the country after the War. [CSAA]


Child Study Association of America (CSAA). (1947). The Child Study Association of America was originally formed as the Society for the Study of Child Nature (1888) and then renamed the Federation for Child Study (1908). Tthe organization formally incorporated as the Child Study Association of America (1924).


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Created: 2:49 AM 6/9/2015
Last updated: 2:49 AM 6/9/2015