would no longer automatically be considered as prima facie refugees, but only asylum seekers and would have to be screened to qualify for refugee status (Screening procedure or procedure to determine refugee status). Those who were screened-out would be sent back to Vietnam and Laos, under an orderly and monitored repatriation program.
When the Steering Committee first met, in 1989, hundreds of thousands of people were escaping out of Viet Nam and Laos by land and boat. Faced with the continuing exodus, and increasing reluctance by third countries to maintain resettlement opportunities for every exile, countries of first asylum in South-East Asia threatened push-backs of the asylum seekers.
The Conference on Indo-Chinese Refugees wanted Viet Nam and the Lao People's Democratic Republic to be involved in the solution for this problem, as well as first-asylum countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, HongKong, Thailand) and resettlement countries, to share responsibility for the asylum seekers and guarantee asylum to all refugees. It also demanded that every asylum seeker would receive refuge in first-asylum countries and not be pushed back, when the process of determination of his or her refugee claim was pending. Screening procedures (or procedure to determine refugee status) were adopted to examine every individual's claim to refugee status. Recognized refugees were to receive resettlement opportunities. Rejected asylum seekers were to return to their home counties, whose governments agreed to refrain from any discrimination, harassment, persecution or unfair treatment.
Under the Plan, the UNHCR provided humanitarian assistance to the asylum seekers and countries of first asylum. Extensive monitoring procedures were also established in the countries of origin, and financial assistance was provided to the returnees and to the communities which agreed to accept them back.