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WESTMINSTER : Walkathons Highlight Plight of Boat People

November 09, 1994|BERT ELJERA

A Vietnamese American organization will hold simultaneous walks in three cities Nov. 19 to raise awareness about the plight of Vietnamese boat people still languishing in refugee camps in Southeast Asia.

In addition, the 10-kilometer walkathons in San Jose, Houston and Fountain Valley will raise money for the refugees, according to Van T. Tran, spokesman for LAVAS, Legal Assistance for Vietnamese Asylum Seekers.

Tran said about 45,000 Vietnamese who fled their country by boat are still being detained in camps in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. The United Nations and the host countries are scheduled to close the camps by the end of next year, he said.

The refugees will then be repatriated to Vietnam where they could be persecuted by the government there for fleeing the country, Tran said.

LAVAS, a national nonprofit group which operates an office in Little Saigon, provides attorneys to help the refugees gain political asylum in the United States and other countries.

About 3,000 people participated in last year's walkathon in Orange County. The event raised more than $100,000, Tran said. About the same number of people are expected this year.

Part of the money is used for medicine, food and clothing for the refugees.

The walkathon will begin at 9 a.m. at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley. A concert and a picnic will follow.

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