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Volume 130: debated on Thursday 31 March 1988

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what advice is currently being given to British citizens resident in, and travelling to, Panama.

years are as follows: six in 1978; two in 1979; two in 1980; two in 1981; four in 1982; three in 1984; one in 1985; one in 1987 and 21 in 1988. Fifteen have been successfully repatriated, 10 withdrew their applications and 17 applications are still being processed by UNHCR. According to Hong Kong Government records there has been only one family application, consisting of a husband and wife and their two children.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many Vietnamese refugees have (a) sought sanctuary in Hong Kong and (b) subsequently been accepted for settlement (i) in the United Kingdom and (ii) in any other non-Communist country in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available.

(a) The Hong Kong Government have accepted all Vietnamese arriving in Hong Kong in boats and has turned none away. The figures for those accepted since 1979 are: 1979 — 68,748; 1980 — 6,788; 1981—8,470; 1982—7,836; 1983—3,651; 1984—2,230; 1985—1,112; 1986—2,055; 1987—3,395; 1988 up to 15 March—716.

(b) The table gives details of departures from Hong Kong since 1979 for the United Kingdom and all other countries:

Our current advice is that there is no danger to British citizens resident in Panama. Visitors are advised not to travel to Panama until further notice unless on urgent business. Those who must travel should bring sufficient cash in US dollars in small denominations to cover all expenses incurred during their stay. They should contact the embassy on arrival.