The Geneva conference on the plight of the Vietnamese "boat people" ended on Saturday (21 July) with promise of 260,000 new homes for refugees and an extra 190 million dollars in settlement aid.
LV High Commissioner for refugees Poul Hartling speaking in English at Geneva Conference
GV Press conference newsmen gathered as U.N. Secretary General Dr Kurt Waldheim takes seat (2 shots)
GV Waldheim speaking
SEQ 1: HARTLING: "I have been informed of the truly dramatic increase in the number of resettlement places available for the refugees. These have risen from 125,000 at the end of May to 260,000 today. May I repeat, because it's worthwhile repeating it -- that at the end of May we had 125,000 places available. Today we can count on 260,000. Many governments have indicated their intention to act with the greatest possible speed to move the refugees to their new homes. This is exactly what we wished."
SEQ. 3: WALDHEIM: "The government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam has authorised me that a round of extensive consultations I had with the Deputy Foreign Minister and his delegation here in Geneva, has authorised me to inform the conference that for a reasonable period (you remember the French suggested six months) the agreement is for a reasonable period of time, it will make every effort to stop the illegal departure. In other words as you heard in the conference many delegates and rightly so said the help for the refugees already outside Vietnam, being already the neighbouring countries is one aspect and we have to help them and we have to help the governments of first asylum to get them out to resettle them definitely. And the countries have finally decided. But this is just one aspect of the problem. The other aspect is to do something about the exodus. Because what does it help if you settle now the 350,000? The question of the 350,000 refugees being already outside Vietnam in the neighbouring countries if the exodus continues and they are by the hundred thousands arriving in the ASEAN countries?"
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Background: The Geneva conference on the plight of the Vietnamese "boat people" ended on Saturday (21 July) with promise of 260,000 new homes for refugees and an extra 190 million dollars in settlement aid. But there were private worries expressed by some members of the delegations on the moral implications of Vietnam's promised curb on its refugee exodus "for a reasonable period of time." Officials described the moratorium -- announced by United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim -- as contrary to the principle of free movement laid down by the United Nations. But nevertheless the conference dealt with the immediate problem of finding places for thousands of Vietnamese already living in crowded refugee camps in Southeast Asia. United Nations High Commissioner in charge of refugees, Poul Hartling spoke to newsmen about the number of places now available to the refugees.