The Assn. of Southeast Asian Nations announced Monday that Vietnamese refugees arriving in their countries will no longer automatically qualify for resettlement, meaning that those unable to prove they are fleeing political persecution will be returned to Vietnam.
A Foreign Ministry statement said that the new policy will take effect today “and will be applied region-wide.”
The move follow’s Hong Kong’s adoption of a similar policy under which Vietnamese “boat people” are considered illegal immigrants subject to repatriation unless they can prove they fled persecution.
Since “boat people” began fleeing Vietnam a decade ago, all the association members--Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Brunei, Singapore and the Philippines--have accepted any Vietnamese who arrived as a refugee. Refugees were given temporary asylum and put into camps to await resettlement by the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and other Western nations.