AN end to United Nations involvement in Vietnamese detention centres is to be a key item in international discussions set to be held by the end of the year. Without the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) providing its services, governments in the region would have to complete repatriation on their own. The Geneva meeting, scheduled for for November, will discuss how UNHCR staff will pullout of Hong Kong by about March next year and by the end of this year from other camps in the region. It will also address the overall wind up of the Comprehensive Plan of Action which was set up in 1989 to oversee the resettlement and repatriation process. The last meeting of the UN steering committee mapped out a plan for 'simplified procedures' for the repatriation of the 40,000 Vietnamese boat people left in the region. Hanoi, though, has failed to live up to its end of the bargain by not providing clearances for return. Another item to be discussed is the remaining refugees. Hong Kong has about 1,200 unlikely to be resettled from a total of about 1,600 refugees. This group is largely made up of people with drug or medical problems which prohibit third countries from taking them. As a result, government and UN officials say it is necessary to convince them repatriation is the only option. This can only be done with approval from Vietnam which has only taken back a handful so far. Refugees Co-ordinator Brian Bresnihan and Secretary for Security Peter Lai Hing-ling are expected to attend the Geneva talks. A British Foreign Office representative will also attend. The meeting will be the first Vietnam attends as a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It is expected association governments in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, which all have boat people in camps, may put pressure on Hanoi to take people back. The UNHCR largely concentrated on screening asylum seekers to determine whether they were eligible for refugee status. Screening is now complete. The UNHCR also administers the voluntary repatriation programme. The South China Morning Post revealed last week that under existing circumstances, Hong Kong would not be able to clear its detention centres until May 1997. China has adopted an increasingly tough stance at recent steering committee and regional technical meetings on its position that all boat people be repatriated or resettled before June 30, 1997. Malaysia is looking at using large ships to forcibly repatriate its remaining Vietnamese population of about 4,500 as an alternative to the Hong Kong method of using aircraft to return about 100 people per flight. Vietnamese have been reluctant to volunteer for repatriation recently after the United States moved to resettle up to 20,000 boat people in America. About 21,000 Vietnamese remain in Hong Kong's detention centres.