An international meeting on Indochinese refugees opened Wednesday to consider a plan to force the return of the asylum seekers to communist Vientam.
Faced with 300,000 Indochinese refugees stranded in camps in Southeast Asia, officials from 37 countries began to grapple with the thorny problem of quickly relieving the burden on first asylum nations."A definite solution has remained elusive," said Rafeeuddin Ahmed, special representative of the U.N. secretary-general.
Agreements reached by the international community a decade ago have shown "signs of unravelling," he told the opening session of the three-day meeting - a preparatory session for the U.N.-sponsored International Conference on Indochinese Refugees in Geneva in June.
"The consequent danger," he said, is "regional tensions may be exacerbated and the rights of refugees and asylum seekers suffer."
Under scrutiny was a "Comprehensive Plan of Action" from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations guaranteeing temporary refuge, setting up a regional screening process to determine legitimate refugees and a highly controversial provision providing for forced repatriation back to Vietnam.