The children on board the Huey Fong cheered when they saw the harbor lights of Hong Kong. Their freight ship, crammed with 3,000 refugees—most of them ethnic Chinese fleeing persecution in Vietnam—had been anchored for twenty-seven days outside the waters of the British colony. Now, for humanitarian reasons, the Hong Kong government was making exception to its policy of not accepting refugees on ships whose first port of call was not Hong Kong. (It said the Huey Fong was destined for Taiwan.)

The refugees found a temporary home, but a crowded one. Already one of the most densely populated cities in the world, Hong Kong had more than 5,000 Vietnamese refugees in camps waiting to be resettled when the Huey Fong docked. These so-called “boat people” were among an estimated 600,000 refugees (United Nations figure) in Southeast Asia, which has become a seething mass of displaced persons who are trying to escape war or communism. The resettlement of Indochinese refugees has been administered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which channels the refugees to nations willing to accept them. Support has been requested from humanitarian and religious groups in the West—since provisions for the refugees have been markedly lacking.

The latest agency to offer assistance was the World Relief Commission (WRC), the relief arm of the National Association of Evangelicals. It appointed T. Grady Mangham last month as director of refugee resettlement—a position that will involve finding sponsors for the 50,000 Indochinese refugees expected to arrive in the U.S. by April. Mangham would work from his Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) office in Nyack, New York, where he had been a director of CMA missions for Southeast ...

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