Nearly every day, a new boatload of Vietnamese refugees arrives in Hong Kong, placing growing pressure on already cramped conditions in the protectorate's reception centres.
Nearly every day, a new boatload of Vietnamese refugees arrives in Hong Kong, placing growing pressure on already cramped conditions in the protectorate's reception centres. There are currently 68,000 refugees in Hong Kong all hoping to be found new homes-like the twelve Catholic families who arrived in Argentina on Friday (14 September)
SYNOPSIS: The sight of a refugee laden boat limping into Hong Kong harbour has become a common occurrence. Boats like this one arrive with their cargoes of human beings, many of whom have been without food and water for days. They are hungry, weak and often in need of medical attention after their ordeal at sea.
But their arrival in Hong Kong is by no means the end of their journey. Waiting for them is an exhaustive immigration check, in which they are required to give extensive details of their past lives and their reasons for coming to Hong Kong.
Lengthy medical checks then follow before the boat people are allowed to join the 68,000 other refugees currently housed in Hong Kong's reception centres. The medical screening is a essential, since disease spreads quickly in the crowded refugee centres, and several deaths have already been reported. Most vulnerable to infection are small children. Many of them reach Hong Kong already sick.
But even when the checks are over, all the refugees can do is wait. Despite international pledges of two hundred and sixty thousand resettlement places, refugees still arrive in Hong Kong quicker than they leave.
The fortunate ones will find new lives in new countries, like this family which arrived in Buenos Aires on Friday (14 September). They were invited to Argentina as part of a government scheme to increase the population outside Buenos Aires.
Upon arrival they were taken to a temporary camp to learn Spanish and to prepare for life in Argentina. Twelve families arrived on Friday, but they will be followed by a thousand more, all Roman Catholics from Kampuchea, Laos or Vietnam. At the airport the new arrivals celebrated the start of their new life.