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Argentina: Treatment of refugees from Laos and Thailand in Argentina, 1985-1989

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 October 1989
Citation / Document Symbol ARG2680
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Argentina: Treatment of refugees from Laos and Thailand in Argentina, 1985-1989, 1 October 1989, ARG2680, available at: [accessed 17 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.


Between 1979 and 1983, approximately 290 Indochinese refugee families totalling 1,500 people were resettled in Argentina, [ World Refugee Survey 1984, (Washington: U.S. Committee for Refugees, 1984), p. 69.] and by 1982, the Indochinese had been widely dispersed throughout the country's rural areas, reportedly contributing to a sense of cultural isolation and making the process of integration difficult. [ World Refugee Survey 1983, p. 52.] A 1986 report indicates Laotians in particular had a difficult time adapting to Argentine life, and had difficulty finding work. [ World Refugee Survey 1986, p. 59.]

Following the country's economic decline, which sharpened after the Falklands War, the government promulgated a decree giving Indochinese refugees the possibility of acquiring Argentine nationality, of enjoying full rights, and of choosing their settlement location. [ World Refugee Survey 1983, p. 52.] Many sought jobs in Buenos Aires, and some five hundred Laotians reportedly ended up requesting repatriation after unsuccessful attempts at settling. By 1986, however, only 17 families had been granted visas to leave Argentina. [ World Refugee Survey 1986, p. 59.]

The UNHCR began phasing out all programs for Indochinese refugees in Argentina in 1985, [ World Refugee Survey 1985, p. 57.] at a time when independent relief groups were reportedly overwhelmed by a sudden influx of Chilean and returning Argentinean refugees. [ Ibid.] These programs consisted of self-help housing, employment training, cultural orientation and language education. [ Ibid.] According to a report, the Argentinean government provides no direct assistance to refugees, [ World Refugee Report 1988, (Washington: U.S. Department of State's Bureau for Refugee Programs, September 1988), p. 52.] while another report indicates the Argentinean government does not force the return of refugees to their countries. [ Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1988, (Washington: U.S. Department of State, 1989), p. 443.]

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