More than 400 Vietnamese refugees touched dry land in Hong Kong on Thursday (24 August) after being plucked from their disabled junk off the Vietnamese coast.
More than 400 Vietnamese refugees touched dry land in Hong Kong on Thursday (24 August) after being plucked from their disabled junk off the Vietnamese coast. The group of 410 people is the largest to arrive in Hong Kong from Vietnam and housing and feeding the refugees is causing problems in the overcrowded colony.
SYNOPSIS: Hong Kong harbour police kept a close eve on the United States frigate as it anchored in mid harbour.
The refugees outnumbered the Whipples 260 crew members by nearly two to one. They'd been picked up two days earlier (22 August) about 160 kilometres (100 miles) off the coast of Vietnam. The frigate was sailing from Thailand to Hong Kong when it came upon the junk during a heavy storm and the captain decided to transfer the refugees to his vessel. It took two hours in stormy seas to lift all the refugees aboard, including one woman who was eight months pregnant. Because the Whipple was on a scheduled visit to Hong Kong the authorities have granted the refugees three months temporary visas. The colony's policy is to allow ashore only those refugees picked up by vessels whose next port of call was to be Hong Kong. The refugees will be cared for by the United Nations High Commission for refugees.
The frigate's arrival with the 410 refugees has stretched the colony's immigration department to the limit. Only hours before a police launch had picked up another 157 Vietnamese refugees from a fishing boat.
The Hong Kong government already grappling with an upsurge in immigration from China, recently expressed concern over the number of Vietnamese refugees who are making their way to the colony.