A historical photography series released by the government documents the different types of Vietnamese refugee boats arriving in Hong Kong between 1979 and 1981.
The shots were released from the archival records of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force.
Following the Fall of Saigon in 1975, which marked the end of the 20-year-long Vietnam War, more than 200,000 Vietnamese refugees made the perilous journey across the Pacific Ocean to Hong Kong in crowded boats, thus coining the term “Vietnamese boat people.”
According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, a third of those who made the dangerous voyage died at sea.
Hong Kong had initially declared itself a “port of first asylum” for refugees, however, the influx of migrants soon triggered a 25-year-long crisis.
In the 1980s and 90s, thousands were detained in squalid refugee camps with poor sanitation and rationed supplies, leading to riots among inmates.
Asylum seekers today face tough refugee screening procedures – between 2014 and 2017, only 0.7 per cent of applications in Hong Kong were accepted on the grounds of “non-refoulement,” or torture.
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