Casting off: The Vietnamese boat people

Vietnamese boat people in Hong Kong (© dom brassey draws comics)

Marijke van der Meer explores one of the sad legacies of the war in Vietnam. Over 20 years after the fall of Saigon, thousands of the nearly one million Vietnamese boat people who once sought asylum in neighbouring Asian countries are still stranded in Hong Kong.

Some of them are being held as illegal aliens in detention centres, but even those in open camps, who have been granted official refugee status, are at a loss as to what will happen to them come July 1st, the day on which Hong Kong reverts to Chinese sovereignty. Beijing wants the boat people out by then, but enormous legal barriers have left these people stranded in a legal limbo.

Producer: Marijke van der Meer

Broadcast: November 1997