PALAU WARY OF ‘SAFE HAVEN’ FOR GIRLS

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By Bernadette H. Carreon

KOROR (Palau Horizon, Jan. 10) — Palau President Tommy Remengesau says the United States International Mission has not approached Palau regarding a "safe haven" proposal, which he described as having "serious implications" for this island nation.

USIM is reportedly considering Palau as an alternative site to rehabilitate rescued Vietnamese girls who were forced into prostitution in Cambodia.

USIM’s first choice was the Northern Marianas but a public outcry resulted in the suspension of the proposed "save haven" entry regulations.

Remengesau said USIM’s proposal could also have serious implications for Palau.

"We have never been approached and what we know is what we have read in the news," he said. "While we are a hospitable people there are serious implications for Palau (if we become a) safe haven for immigrants," Remengesau said.

He said Palau will be cautious in considering the proposal since it could affect many sectors of the community.

Palau, he said, is a very small place and the entry of the Vietnamese girls could have an impact on local health, law enforcement and education.

The president said Palau earlier rejected a request from Canberra to accept refugees that were trying to seek asylum in Australia.

January 10, 2006

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