HL Deb 24 June 1992 vol 538 c31WA
Lord Gainford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What arrangements have recently been made concerning Vietnamese migrants in Hong Kong.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey)

On 19th June 38 Vietnamese illegal immigrants were repatriated from Hong Kong to Vietnam on the first flight under the final stage of the orderly repatriation programme. The operation, which was carried out in accordance with international practice, went smoothly.

The group comprised migrants who had arrived in Hong Kong before 29th October 1991. All had undergone the full screening and appeal procedure (vetted by UNHCR) and been found not to be refugees.

Since the orderly repatriation programme was announced on 29th October 1991, there has been a dramatic drop in the number of arrivals in Hong Kong, accompanied by a surge in applications for voluntary repatriation. We hope that most of the non-refugees still in Hong Kong will now volunteer to return. Already, more than 20,000 non-refugees have returned to Vietnam from the region without a single substantiated case of persecution.

It does no service to the genuine refugee to classify him among those who are merely seeking a better life abroad. The clearing of the Hong Kong camps will enable genuine refugees to be properly looked after and resettled as appropriate.