Repatriation programme hits holdup
SIMON HOLT in Bangkok
The repatriation programme of Vietnamese refugees from Thailand may have to be extended because of a hitch in Vietnamese bureaucracy.
Some 1,936 Vietnamese are still being held in the Sikhiu holding camp in northern Thailand.
But according to a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees official, Vietnamese authorities have yet to clear documentation for 600 people who are due to return, apparently because they cannot verify addresses.
Two flights returned 163 Vietnamese to Ho Chi Minh City yesterday, this time without a mass suicide attempt and threats to burn down the camp.
Last Wednesday, more than 50 Vietnamese at the Sikhiu holding camp stabbed themselves.
One of the refugees later died of his injuries.
Yesterday's repatriation, under the 'orderly repatriation programme', brings the total number of asylum-seekers to under 2,000.
Another plane load of asylum-seekers is set to return to Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday.