The Philippines Foreign Ministry has announced that the tiny island of Maewa in the South Pacific New Hebrides group has offered to take in all two thousand three hundred Vietnamese refugees at present stranded on board the freighter ship Tung An in Manila Bay.
GV refugee ship Tung An anchored in Manila Bay, Philippines (TWO SHOTS)
LV refugees crowded on deck
SV banner on Tung An thanking doctors for aid
GV Medical boat with quarantine notice moored alongside Tung An
SV ZOOM IN doctors and nurses climbing aboard Tung An
SV nurses handing out medicine and giving medical aid to refugees (TWO SHOTS)
SV baby and other refugees being returned from medical boat to Tung An (TWO SHOTS)
GV refugees crowded on deck
SV refugees returning from medical boat (TWO SHOTS)
SV children waving ZOOM OUT TO GV medical bot moored alongside Tung An
GV medical boat leaves
GV flotilla of small boats surrounding Tung An
Accusations about Vietnamese government collusion in a multi-million dollar refugee racket have been made by Australian Immigration Minister Michael MacKeller in the Hong Kong - based magazine, The Far Eastern Economic Review. Mr MacKeller said his information suggested that four ship-loads of fee-paying refugees, including the Huey Fong moored off Hong Kong, had been arranged with "passengers" charged up to 4,000 U.S. dollars each.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: The Philippines Foreign Ministry has announced that the tiny island of Maewa in the South Pacific New Hebrides group has offered to take in all two thousand three hundred Vietnamese refugees at present stranded on board the freighter ship Tung An in Manila Bay. The offer came from the island's Chief, Molly Stevens, on Monday (8 January) after the first sixteen people were taken off the ship for resettlement -- ten of them in France and six in New Zealand.
SYNOPSIS: The Tung An has been in Manila Bay for nearly two weeks. United Nations representative, Werner Blatter, described the Maewa offer as "very generous", but doubted its feasibility because the island was looking for fishermen and farmers, while those aboard are mostly middle-class people.
While the resettlement negotiations continue, the Tung An refugees have been receiving medical aid from the Filipino government. Conditions on board the freighter are said to be very bad, but the people's spirits have been raised since the resettlement offers from France and New Zealand -- and another from Israel to take a further hundred.
According to Reuters News Agency, the Tung An may be towed out to sea on Thursday, (11 December) unless more undertakings to accept the refugees are forthcoming. At a news conference on Sunday (7 January), the Philippines President, Ferdinand Marcos, said international help would have to be organised by the United Nations -- both for the people aboard the Tung An and another two thousand Vietnamese refugees living in a camp in Manila.