In Kenya, 51 Vietnamese refugees are waiting for a decision on their future, after being granted temporary asylum at a coastal holiday centre near Mombasa.
In Kenya, 51 Vietnamese refugees are waiting for a decision on their future, after being granted temporary asylum at a coastal holiday centre near Mombasa. All are members of the same family and narrowly escape drowning in the South China Sea when their open fishing boat began to sink. They were rescued by a Greek freighter which took them to Mombasa Harbour -- and into a diplomatic wrangle on their future.
SYNOPSIS: Kenya decided to grant the Vietnamese family temporary asylum at this Indian Ocean coastal resort, after Greece agreed on humanitarian grounds to accept the refugees should they find no other home when their three-month asylum period ends. Canada has since announce it will accept about 25 members of the family. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees says the United States is also considering accepting some.
The head of the family has explained to the Kenyan authorities and newsmen why he put his relatives at risk of drowning in the escape attempt. When the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon fell three years ago, the family had chosen to stay in the country but had decided soon afterwards that Vietnam's new way of life was unacceptable, he said.
For two years, the escape was planned and provisions secretly stored. The children knew nothing of the plan, so that they could not inadvertently betray their elders. On March 23, the 51 refugees set out for the Philippines. Ten days later, some 280 miles (450 kilometres) off the Vietnamese coast, they were rescued. Now the children's games are interspersed with English lessons to prepare them for a new life.