Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2018, 10:13 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2007 - Vietnam

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 11 July 2007
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2007 - Vietnam, 11 July 2007, available at: [accessed 17 January 2018]
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.

Refoulement/Physical Protection

There were no reports of forced return of refugees during the year.

In response to North Korean asylum seekers entering foreign diplomatic missions in Hanoi in 2005, the Government called on diplomatic missions and international organizations to hand over third country intruders. No one attempted such entries in 2006.

Vietnam was not party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees or either of the conventions on statelessness and had no refugee law, nor did the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) process asylum cases under its mandate in 2006. The 1992 Constitution provided that the Government "shall consider granting asylum to foreigners struggling for freedom, national independence, socialism, democracy, and peace, or are harmed because of their scientific work." There were no reports, however, of anyone applying for or receiving asylum under this provision. The Constitution reserved to citizens its protections of "inviolability of the person" and "life, health, honour and dignity" and its prohibition of "all forms of harassment and coercion [and] torture,"

Vietnam hosted two groups of Cambodian refugees. About 9,500 Cambodians of Chinese ethnicity remained in Vietnam since their arrival in 1975. UNHCR considered them stateless as the Cambodian government no longer recognized them as its citizens and most had lost any documentation proving their nationality. The 1998 Law on Vietnamese Nationality provided that the State "creates conditions for all children born on the Vietnamese territory to have nationality and for stateless persons permanently residing in Vietnam to be granted the Vietnamese nationality under the provisions of this Law" but, as the Government did not consider the refugees stateless, none could avail themselves of this law. About 2,400 have lived in four camps set up in Binh Duong and Binh Phuoc Provinces and Ho Chi Minh City since the 1980s. The rest lived mostly in and around Ho Chi Minh City.

A separate group of about 13,000 Cambodians was the remainder of about 35,000 ethnic Vietnamese fishing people from Tongsleap Lake who fled the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, most of whom returned after the elections in 1993. They lived in local communities in the Mekong River delta provinces of Vietnam, unable to naturalize for lack of documentation. UNHCR had not had contact with them since 1997.

Detention/Access to Courts

Authorities did not detain any refugees or asylum seekers for illegal entry or presence or for exercising their rights during the year.

The Government did not issue refugees identity documents as it did nationals but some local authorities did issue them registration books including all family members. Many born in the camps held only temporary, informal birth certificates that the Government issued years ago and could not get formal certificates because the latter required marriage certificates, which the Government denied them. The Cambodian Government rejected them as nationals and refused to certify their Cambodian origin and marital status, preventing them from legally marrying in Vietnam.

The Constitution extended to all its due process rights and protections against arbitrary detention.

Freedom of Movement and Residence

The Government generally required travelers to carry People's Identity Cards, which were available only to citizens. Local authorities, however, issued refugees travel permits valid for six months to travel to other provinces or to Ho Chi Minh City. These permits were free of charge, and allowed the refugees to travel throughout the country.

The Government did not issue them international travel documents but local authorities could facilitate travel for resettlement.

Right to Earn a Livelihood

Refugees did not have the right to work legally in Vietnam. It was difficult for refugees to work for companies or the Government because they lacked legal status and identity documents. They worked for fellow ethnic Chinese in Ho Chi Minh City, however, or in the areas surrounding the camps without work permits. This consigned them to low paying jobs without the protection of labor legislation or insurance.

They did not have the legal right to acquire, hold title to, and transfer property, nor could they open bank accounts. Even to own motorcycles – an essential means of transportation – they had to register their titles in the names of citizens. The Government incorporated Thu Duc, including one of the refugee settlement areas, as part of Ho Chi Minh City and planned to relocate the residents for development. The stateless, however, had no legal right to compensation that their Vietnamese neighbors might receive.

Public Relief and Education

Refugees had access to primary and secondary education on par with that of nationals. They received standard health services but less public relief, rationing, and assistance than nationals, depending upon the goodwill of provincial authorities rather than law.

In 2005 and 2006, UNHCR allocated more than $180,000 to implement micro-projects in the camp areas, including construction of a dispensary, a kindergarten, and access roads, carried out through the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA).

There were no restrictions on humanitarian aid to refugees either in or out of the camps but the Government did not mention them in the 2003 Comprehensive poverty reduction and growth strategy or the two subsequent annual reports it prepared for international donors or other development plans or requests for development aid.

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