HC Deb 18 February 1992 vol 204 c88W
Sir William Shelton

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Vietnamese migrants.

Mr. Hurd

On 12 February, 36 illegal immigrants were repatriated from Hong Kong on the third mandatory flight under the orderly repatriation programme of 29 October 1991. They had all been screened out under procedures approved by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees—UNHCR—and were returned to Vietnam in accordance with international practice. The operation went smoothly.

The first phase of the orderly repatriation programme agreed with the Vietnamese Government on 29 October has succeeded in reducing the camp population in Hong Kong, encouraging migrants already there to return to Vietnam and stopping the flow of arrivals to Hong Kong. The camp population in Hong Kong has fallen from a peak on 5 October 1991 of 64,314 to 58,762 now. Whereas 20,163 Vietnamese arrived in Hong Kong in the first 10 months of 1991, only 45 arrived in November and December. Only four have arrived so far in 1992. In the first 10 months of 1991 an average of 500 Vietnamese per month returned voluntarily to Vietnam under UNHCR auspices. In contrast, 1,900 returned voluntarily in November and 1,800 in December. So far this year UNHCR has repatriated 1,191. This is substantial progress, though the pressures on Hong Kong are still severe.

In total, more than 20,000 migrants have so far been repatriated to Vietnam under UNHCR auspices from countries of first asylum in the region. There has not been a single substantiated case of persecution. Only if migrants are returned to their country of origin can the genuine refugees be properly looked after and resettled in accordance with their international rights.

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