by MICHAEL DUGGAN Three volunteer workers who flew from Saigon with 105 Vietnamese children in the Daily Mail "mercy" plane this week .criticised the large-scale airlift of "orphans" from South Vietnam to the West.
At the London headquarters of the Catholic Institute for International Relations, Mr Robert Millman, a CHRsponsored lecturer in English at the University of Hue, and two young women childcare workers formerly employed in Saigon criticised the moving of children to the "totally alien environment" of Europe and the United States.
"It is idiotic," said one of the women, who asked that their names should not be revealed in order to protect colleagues still working in Vietnam. She pointed out that not all the "orphans" were necessarily abandoned. "They are accepted into orphanages, having both parents alive. They're often accepted because the parents are too poor to feed the children."
The volunteers left South Vietnam after consular officials had issued foreign nationals with advice to go at the earliest opportunity. All three said they were "extremely grateful" for the free Daily Mail flight to England, but they voiced "total opposition" to any wholesale evacuation of children from the war-torn country. On Monday, the South Vietnamese Government halted evacuation after 1,700 children had been airlifted.
British Catholic organisations reserved places for 150 Vietnamese orphans. The Catholic Women's League Relief and Refugee Committee, under the chairmanship of Mrs. D. Woodruff and Fr Michael Connolly of the Social Welfare Commission, have been working together under the umbrella organisation of the British Council for Aid to Refugees.
There will undoubtedly be a need for considerable funds, said Mr Noel Charles, vicechairman of Catholic Women's League Relief, this week. "Any donations to the CWL Relief and Refugee Committee for this purpose will be welcome.'