Vietnamese Refugees
in Hong Kong

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Remaining Vietnamese boat people set to win residency

Hong Kong January 9, 1999 - Hong Kong Authorities are considering granting residency to about 1,000 Vietnamese boat people with criminal records, medical disorders or drug addictions whom other countries refuse to take.

The Immigration Department is understood to be close to making a recommendation to the Security Bureau letting the refugees remain in Hong Kong.

The UN and a refugee lawyer welcomed the idea on january 8, 1999. The refugees have been in limbo for the past 10 years.

A spokesman said the Immigration Department was deliberating measures to help the Vietnamese - many of whom have jobs and children who were born in Hong Kong - integrate into society.

Most have been living at Pilar Point refugee camp since being accepted by the UN as asylum seekers after leaving Vietnam in the late 1980s.

"The Vietnamese refugees are a closed chapter in every country's book and it is time it became a closed book in Hong Kong," Refugee Concern Lawyer Rob Brook said.

Hong Kong officials, including Tung Chee-hwa, have pleaded in vain with Western nations over the past two years to take the remaining 1,036 Vietnamese refugees and relatives.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees office chief Terence Pike welcomed the new development, while Legco security panel chairman James To Kun-sun said he could not object to them staying as the number was low and they had lived here so long.

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