As the rest of the world welcomed the New Year, the plight of hundreds of Vietnamese refugees on boats and in camps has not improved.
GV boats in Hong Kong harbour
GV refugees gathered at temporary camps
SV & CU refugees getting water from tap, washing clothes and eating (FOUR SHOTS)
SCU representative of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees speaking to Jim Biddulph of the BBC
GV EXTERIOR Jose Favella refugee camp in Manila, Philippines (TWO SHOTS)
SCU Philippines Deputy Foreign Minister, Jose Ingles speaking in English to newsmen with shots of refugees in centre (NINE SHOTS)
GV EXTERIOR Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital in Manila
CU insignia of hospital on cloth
SV & CU sick refugees and babies being cared for by nurses in hospital (FIVE SHOTS)
TRANSCRIPT: SPOKESMAN: "The High Commissioner believes that rescued passengers should normally be allowed to disembark where the ship first calls. When, however, this is not possible, and should the ship be able to continue to its intended port of call, it is expected that normal permission to disembark should be given at that port."
BIDDULPH: "Now, in this case, Hong Kong is saying that these people may not disembark."
SPOKESMAN: "Well, in the past, Hong Kong has been extremely generous in granting temporary asylum to boat refugees from Vietnam, generally. In the matter of those rescued at sea, by ocean-going vessels, Hong Kong has applied the principle of the first intended post of call, and I believe this has been consistently applied in the past. Now, this observance of this principle, would lead to orderly solutions if all countries in the area, in the region, were to observe this principle. But in the case of the Huey Fong, the passengers themselves have doubts about their resettlement opportunities if the ship were to proceed to its intended port of call."
BIDDULPH: "Which is Taiwan."
SPOKESMAN: "Which is Taiwan."
INGLES: "Over 12,500 refugees since 1975, and of this number about 2,000 are still awaiting resettlement. And for that reason, our facilities at the Fabella refugee centre are very much strained and its now overcrowded. And that explains why we cannot accept this new batch of 2,400 or more refugees."
REPORTER: JIM BIDDULPH
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: As the rest of the world welcomed the New Year, the plight of hundreds of Vietnamese refugees on boats and in camps has not improved. Hong Kong has accepted many but is refusing permission for 2,700 more to land from the Taiwan-owned freighter the Huey Fong. It has been anchored just outside Hong Kong waters since shortly before Christmas. And the Philippines is faced with the same problem. The government appealed to several nations, including the Soviet Union and China, to help resettle 2,300 refugees crammed on board the freighter Tung An, now in Manila Bay.
SYNOPSIS: For the Vietnamese refugees in Hong Kong, the future is uncertain. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees is on the scene and the BBC's Jim Biddulph asked a spokesman to comment on Hong Kong's attitude to the Vietnamese "boat people", and their ship the Huey Fong.
And in the Philippines, the Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr Jose Ingles held a news conference to detail facts and figures regarding the number of Vietnamese refugees his country has already accepted.
A representative of the UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) has been interviewing refugees on board the Tung An, which had earlier been turned away from Brunei. Its master said about 200 people died trying to get aboard. Meanwhile, the sick among the 2,400 refugees already ashore in Manila were being cared for in the Jose Reyes Memorial Hospital. They included a pregnant woman and a baby whose mother was still on board the Tung An.