More than eight hundred Vietnamese refugees were picked up on Monday ( 9 JULY) by the French hospital ship Ile de Lumiere in the South China sea.
More than eight hundred Vietnamese refugees were picked up on Monday ( 9 JULY) by the French hospital ship Ile de Lumiere in the South China sea. After their arrival in Singapore to await their transfer to France, they told reporters they had endured rape, beatings and theft in their three-week effort to reach safety.
SYNOPSIS: The Ile de Lumiere is financed by charitable organisations. It sailed last week from the Malaysian refugee island of Bidong where it was providing medical assistance to more than 40,000 refugees. On Monday (9 July) in the South China Sea the ship sighted several small wooden boats with hundreds of Vietnamese aboard. many of the refugees said they had left Vietnam three weeks earlier and reached what they thought was a safe haven in Malaysia.
The French Government Supports the mission of the Ile de Lumiere and has guaranteed permanent homes in France for all the refugees they take aboard.
The refugees said they were twice forced by Malaysian soldiers to go back to sea. They allege that before they were towed out to sea they were robbed of gold and many women were raped. A malaysian Home Ministry spokesman dismissed the accounts, but doctors aboard the Ile de Lumiere say they have treated several women who appear to have been assaulted.