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Sending Boat People Back to Vietnam

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We appreciate the balanced and informative article ``Vietnamese Boat People Face Uneasy Trip Home,'' Nov. 30. However, the article contains an inaccuracy concerning the role of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in repatriation to Vietnam. UNHCR is convinced that an effective program of repatriation for those who do not qualify for refugee status is an essential element in maintaining asylum in Southeast Asia. Without repatriation of nonrefugees, there is a danger that the practice of granting asylum to boat people will collapse, thus causing great human suffering.

It is incorrect, however, to say that UNHCR has agreed to ``push mandatory repatriation.'' UNHCR's involvement in repatriation to Vietnam is confined to two categories of people. The first are boat people who take the initiative of volunteering to go home. So far, over 6,500 Vietnamese have returned to their country under this voluntary program. There are also those who, having been rejected under the refugee determination procedures, do not object to returning to Vietnam. A first group of 23 people in this category returned from Hong Kong recently.

Both these categories of returnees are covered by the same guarantees of nonrecrimination following return to Vietnam, where their reintegration is monitored by UNHCR. There is no question of UNHCR's being involved in a process of compulsory deportation to Vietnam.

Raymond Hall, Geneva, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Monetary union vs. democracy? The article ``Britain Moderates Stance on Europe,'' Dec. 4, does not explain why some of our members of Parliament, as well as some of the British public, are wary over the rush toward monetary union with Europe.

Monetary union means a central bank, which is undemocratic in the form envisaged at present. In this country, the chancellor of the exchequer is an elected member of Parliament and answerable to the electorate. The projected European central bank would be independent, unelected, answerable to nobody, and empowered to make major decisions of European monetary policy by a straight majority of the council. In short, it would have enormous power.


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