153. Telegram From the Embassy in Thailand to the Department of State1

3874. Following sent fm Songkhla dtd 17 Feb 77 repeated for your info.

Qte. Unclas Songkhla 34. Subject: More Refugees Arrive in Songkhla.

1. After a lull in January, refugee boat arrivals have picked up this month.2 Two most recent arrivals are boat of ten from Rach Gia which arrived Feb 10, and boat of nineteen from Phu Quoc which arrived Feb 14. Many of the refugees on the boat from Phu Quoc have relatives in the U.S.

2. Recent arrivals say that although fuel shortages and tighter shore patrols have cut down on the numbers of refugees able to escape, hundreds more are planning to try to make the attempt. They predicted an increase in attempted escapes beginning around Tet and continuing for about three months when the sea is at its calmest.

3. There are rumors circulating in the Songkhla camp that insurgents may attempt to cause some disturbance there during Tet. This [Page 560] is probably generated by refugees themselves and seem unlikely. Camp is located directly across from the district police station.

4. Camp population is now at about 650. This is down from a high of almost 1000 due primarily to fact that Australians, French, and West Germans have taken sizeable numbers from Songkhla in the past month.

5. There has been no sign of WORP involvement in the camp in recent weeks. Signed. Unqte.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770058–0517. Unclassified. Sent for information to the Mission in Geneva, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, and Singapore.
  2. Refugees began arriving in Thailand and other countries throughout Southeast Asia from Vietnam after 1975. Many of the refugees fled by boat, and as a result were often referred to as “boat people” or “boat refugees.”