Last Vietnamese leave Pillar Point

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 June, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 June, 2000, 12:00am

The last 14 Vietnamese inmates moved out of Pillar Point refugee camp yesterday, three weeks after its official closure.

A family of four were the last to leave at around 4pm after they were promised temporary accommodation elsewhere. Officials cut water and electricity supplies on Monday afternoon when there were still more than 10 inmates at the Tuen Mun centre.

An inmate who moved out of the camp last week said: 'We've no choice but to leave as they threatened to cut water and electricity supplies. I've had to resort to staying with my friends.' The inmates were understood to have reconnected the utilities themselves on Monday night, but the final 14, from two families, moved out when the supply was cut again on Tuesday.

They staged a sit-in at Central Government Offices on Tuesday afternoon to demand settlement by the Government and returned to pack their belongings after being promised temporary accommodation at Caritas Jockey Club Hostel at Mount Davis and Caritas Hostel at Tui Min Hoi, Sai Kung. A Security Bureau spokeswoman said Caritas would waive the rents for the two families for three months and help them to find permanent accommodation.

Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, said yesterday: 'We've succeeded in closing our last camp peacefully.' A Security Bureau spokeswoman said Civil Aid Service would maintain a presence at the site to prevent anyone occupying the flats.

Pillar Point Camp was housing 1,070 inmates in February when the Government decided to close it by offering eligible Vietnamese migrants and refugees identity cards. More than 160 inmates refused to leave when it was officially closed on May 31.

Ninety per cent of the 1,417 Vietnamese - 841 refugees and 433 migrants - have applied for identity cards. The remaining 143 will retain their refugee or migrant status pending the outcome of their applications to be settled abroad.