BOEUNG TRAKUAN - Nearly 1,000 Cambodian refugees who last week fled a Khmer
Rouge attack walked home to a devastated village on Tuesday after their leaders
convinced them it was safe.
UN High Commissioner for refugees (UNHCR)
officers were on hand to observe the repatriation of the 996 people, half of
them children, who had been living in temporary shelters in Thailand.
am pleased to see them back but I am not sure about the security," said UNHCR
official Brian Richer, watching as the Cambodians filed along escorted by Thai
soldiers, with children riding on their parents' shoulders or pushed along in
"Anyway, they can cross the border back [to Thailand]
anytime they want if there is fighting or they hear rumors of fighting," he
Cambodian Major Kuan Swin, 35, reassured the returnees of their
safety. Half of over 400 houses and the village market of Boeung Trakuan were
burned down by the Maoist Khmer Rouge faction in an April 21 attack on a
government base, in which two people were killed.
Residents said they
believed they wanted to frighten the local populace.
Most of the
returnees will now shelter temporarily in pavilions in the center of the
government army base. Those whose houses were intact returned