About 900 refugees from Vietnam reached Thailand in October and November this year--according to government officials in Bangkok.
About 900 refugees from Vietnam reached Thailand in October and November this year--according to government officials in Bangkok. Most of them arrived in the port of Songkla, 560 miles (900 kms) south of the country's capital.
SYNOPSIS: The refugees are fleeing their country in flimsy fishing boats. They face a voyage of a week or more against hostile seas.
With Communist countries on each of Vietnam's land borders, the only route open to the escaping Vietnamese is a hazardous crossing of the often stormy South China Sea.
And, once in Songkla, the refugees are not allowed to leave a restricted area. Sanitation and hygiene facilities are poor. Although there is no lack of food -- the people are suffering from a shortage of fuel for cooking.
And above all--chances for work for those arriving her are slim.
Some of these people have relatives outside Thailand whom they hope to join. Recently 35 of them were admitted to other countries through interviews carried out by French and Canadian representatives. But as the flow of refugees continues--there is an urgent need for assistance for all those struck in Songkla with no place to settle.
The Scandinavian Pentecostal Mission has been active in the are. That organisation alone has spent an estimated GBP 25,000 sterling (40,000 U.S. dollars) in helping the Vietnamese, in the past year.
The Inter-Governmental Committee for European Migration, the ICEM, plans to resettle up to 10,000 Indo-Chinese refugees in various countries next year. It will also grant more assistance to Thailand to help a relief operation. The ICEM's representatives met recently in Geneva with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Prince Sadrruddhin Aga Khan, the International Red Cross authority and officials of many charity organisations. The United States has also promised to give more aid to the ICEM, especially for education.