Indochinese Refugees

Protection, Care, and Processing Can Be Improved Gao ID: ID-80-46 August 19, 1980

Since the Communist governments were established in Indochina in 1975, more than 1.2 million refugees have fled their homelands to other Asian asylum countries due to political persecution, human rights abuses, warfare, and famine. The refugee exodus reached a peak of 58,000 a month in June 1979 but has since subsided to about 3,100 a month. In April 1979, GAO reported on the international efforts to resettle these refugees; the current situation is described.

To curtail the large number of refugees fleeing Vietnam by boat, Vietnam and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reached an agreement in May 1979 for a direct orderly departure program (ODP). Difficulties have arisen that are hampering its implementation. By early 1980, only 226 persons had departed Vietnam for the United States under the program. Success of ODP is essential if the inherent risks and hardships experienced by the 1979 boat people are to be avoided in the future. Two refugee processing centers (RPC) are now under construction to accommodate 60,000 refugees. Moving refugees to these centers will relieve some of the burden on asylum countries. In many cases, camps and transit centers are not adequately protecting refugees from crime and abuse. In addition, not all the camps are providing adequate care, including: food, medical care, shelter, water and sanitation facilities, supplies, safety, education, recreation, and self-reliance projects. The absence of these essential services creates discontent among refugees, severely hampers resettlement, and may make other solutions, such as voluntary repatriation or local integration, impossible.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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