INTRODUCTION: Two ships have rescued more than 120 Vietnamese refugees adrift in the South China Sea.
Background: INTRODUCTION: Two ships have rescued more than 120 Vietnamese refugees adrift in the South China Sea. A Dutch registered tanker took on board about 90 men, women and children from a fishing boat north west of the Philippines last weekend. Earlier, a United States destroyer came to the aid of more than thirty refugees 400 kilometres (about 250 miles) off the Vietnamese coast. More than fifty others were said to have died at sea.
SYNOPSIS: This is the Dutch vessel, M.V. Antilla Bay. Her crew were sailing to Osaka in Japan from Singapore when they spotted the Vietnamese fishing boat. Many survivors of the perilous journey were in poor condition. Some were seriously ill.
They were reported to have left Ho Chi Minh city, formerly Saigon, on 11 July. Their leader said soldiers were bribed with gold to ensure their escape. He also claimed that a large number of ships has passed them at sea without offering help. The ordeal left many refugees, particularly children, in an emaciated stage.
They were rescued on Saturday (1 August), crammed into the crews' quarters, and taken about 320 kilometres (about 200 miles) to Manila harbour. Four more refugees died as the ship returned to the Philippines. Expert medical help awaited the rest.
Refugees continue to leave Vietnam in their thousands. Many sets out in poorly-equipped fishing boats. Few are lucky enough to be picked up by people like the Dutch ship's captain Jovi Visser.
Many of them also end up in countries like Thailand, adding to what is already a considerable refugee problem throughout the Far East.
Twice as many refugees reached Hong Kong in the first half of 1981 compared with the same period last year. Many say they are not fleeing persecution, but simply looking for a better life.
But entry into another country isn't guaranteed. This refugee might wait months in a transit camp....one among many thousands.