The government of Hong Kong, saying its resources for housing Vietnamese “boat people” have been overwhelmed, moved 350 men, women and children Tuesday to an island with only basic rations and no shelter.
The Vietnamese, the latest of the 2,300 “boat people” who have arrived in the British colony over the past three days, were taken by police launch and left under guard on Tai A Chau, the main island in the Soko group, about 18 miles southwest of Hong Kong Island.
“They will be provided with food and water, but we are not able to provide them with shelter,” said government refugee coordinator Mike Hanson.
“We simply have no accommodation left. I think it is important that people in the camps and in the northern part of Vietnam understand that we have no accommodation for ‘boat people,’ ” Hanson said.
Hanson said any new arrivals would be towed out to the Sokos if their boats were seaworthy but would have the option of continuing their voyage if they wished.
The Sokos, among Hong Kong’s 236 islands, are inhabited by only one elderly Chinese couple. There is no running water and no facilities except for a run-down former school.
There are now nearly 38,000 Vietnamese “boat people” jammed into Hong Kong’s camps, prisons and detention centers.
About 24,000 of them are regarded as illegal immigrants. They are ones who arrived since last June, when Hong Kong introduced a policy that classifies incoming “boat people” as illegal immigrants subject to repatriation unless they can prove they are genuine refugees fleeing political persecution.