The unauthorised landing of more than 300 Vietnamese refugees in north Australia last week has sparked off a controversy in the country.
The unauthorised landing of more than 300 Vietnamese refugees in north Australia last week has sparked off a controversy in the country. There have been allegations that some were not genuine refugees, but were actually wealthy businessmen. There has been a growing public protest against the refugees being allowed to enter the country, when some Australian citizens have been refused permission to bring in their overseas relatives.
SYNOPSIS: Since the Vietnam war ended two and a half years ago, more than 700 Vietnamese refugees have made unauthorised landings along Australia's northern coast. This old fishing boat being towed into the Port of Darwin by a navy patrol boat last week was typical of the vessels that brought the latest influx. They had taken 76 days to make the voyage from Vietnam. The latest refugees have revealed that a further 2,000 are on their way by boat to Australia. They consider that country their best bet since Thailand, Malaysia and other South-east Asian countries have recently begun refusing them entry.
Until now, the Australian Government has not turned them away. After processing, they have been boarded at hostels, such as this one near Sydney, and giving unemployment benefits until they have been settled. But the normally-hospitable Australians have become concerned at the large numbers of unauthorised refugees being allowed in, especially following reports that some had arrived with servants and quantities of gold. Under public pressure, the Government has warned off unauthorised immigrants. Before the public unrest, Australia was planning to take some 2,000 Vietnamese refugees by the middle of next year.