Palawan Refugee Camp, Philippine

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Palawan Boat people

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Palawan Camp

PRPC was funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and was capable of holding up to 18,000 refugees at any one time. Coupled with a large population of Filipino and third-country employees, PRPC operated like a small city with schools, hospitals, libraries, restaurants, sports facilities, fire brigades, sewage treatment facilities, power generation facilities, water treatment centers, markets, and houses of worship for four religions.

They numbered about 50,000 during the 1980s but most have emigrated to the United States or repatriated back to Vietnam. Some have intermarried with Filipinos and Spaniards living in the Philippines. Most of them are Catholics.

The camp could hold about 300 staff. Most of the staff lived in the camp in poorly built dormitories.

The main functions of the camp were to hold the refugee population long enough to complete tuberculosis testing, wrap up bureaucratic requirements before departure, and—assuming the refugee was heading to an English speaking nation—give them an opportunity for English as a second language training. Virtually all refugees had confirmation before arrival at PRPC that they had been accepted to resettle in the West and therefore the mood among the refugee population was frequently upbeat and positive.

The ESL program was operated by the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC) and was funded by the U.S. Department of State. ICMC provided training to adult refugees aged 17 to 55. Aside from ESL classes, it offered Cultural Orientation (CO) and Work Orientation (WO). A similar ESL program was offered to children by World Relief through an extensive primary education program that took place within classrooms throughout the site.

Photos Courtesy of Major Lan Dalat
Click here to watch his video story
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