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‘Compassion Fatigue’ In The Mid 1980s

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Chapter Summary

During the 1980s, refugee flows from Indochina continued but resettlement numbers started to fall as developed states started to suffer from what ASEAN termed 'compassion fatigue'. This chapter argues that by the mid 1980s Southeast Asian states' became successful in claiming that Indochinese asylum seekers did not deserve prima facie refugee status. It first looks at Southeast Asian states demands for Western states to adhere to the promises of resettlement and assistance made at the 1979 Conference. Then it explains how Southeast Asian states started to frame this argument. At this stage of the crisis there was a curious lack of counter-argument by Western states and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Next, the chapter shows how this impacted on the Cambodian refugee population. Finally, it demonstrates how Southeast Asian states succeeded in convincing key international actors that the Indochinese should not be considered prima facie refugees.

Keywords:1979 Conference; Cambodian refugee population; compassion fatigue; Indochinese asylum seekers; prima facie refugee; Southeast Asian states; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; Western states



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