March 24, 2009: Boat People SOS’ new senior counselor for international initiatives, Ambassador Grover Joseph Rees (ret.), on Tuesday presented BPSOS staff with a report on his February 15-16 trip to Thailand.
Rees met with representatives of a range of non-governmental organizations and international bodies, including UNHCR, Human Rights Watch, the Bangkok Refugee Center, the Jesuit Refugee Service, the Alliance Anti Trafic, and the United Nations Economic and Social Council for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
In conversations throughout the trip, Rees focused on fact-finding about refugees and trafficking victims, including those from Viet Nam.
On the basis of his trip, Rees formulated a series of recommendations on how to tighten BPSOS’ ties to international bodies and local organizations whose mission includes work against human trafficking. The recommendations also include steps to improve the situation of different groups of Vietnamese refugees who have found temporary haven in Thailand.
Rees’ trip laid the foundation for subsequent conversations about how Boat People SOS, together with the Coalition to Abolish Modern-day Slavery in Asia, can work with counterpart organizations to put a halt to the abuses now suffered by many of the tens of thousands of Vietnamese who are exported for their labor each year.