Immigration officials from the Interior Ministry and Pursat province today are to begin a census of all foreigners living in the Kingdom, though it is expected to focus primarily on those of Vietnamese descent.
Following a meeting in Pursat yesterday afternoon, Major General Khun Sambor, chief of the ministry’s intelligence department, told the Post that a census across the province was scheduled to begin.
“Based on the meeting, our team will start conducting the census of foreigners on Thursday,” he said, referring all further questions to the provincial authority.
Ban Heng, Pursat provincial deputy police chief and head of the force’s immigration department, said that nearly 30 officers will begin the door-to-door census in the province’s Bakan and Kandieng districts.
“Most of the foreigners are Vietnamese workers,” he said.
Heng added that he was unsure how long the Pursat census would take to complete.
“It is a difficult task. We will go to every home to conduct the census, so we do not know yet when it will be done,” he said.
Sarun Chanthy, Pursat provincial police chief, said the census, which will spread to other provinces, is intended to bring statistics of foreigners living in the Kingdom up to date and to identify how many are legal residents.
The census will also “see whether the number [of foreigners] has decreased or increased and what documents they are lacking”, he said.
Brak Vuthy, Kampong Chhnang provincial police chief, said the census would begin in his province soon.
“We will have a meeting with the Ministry of Interior and the census will begin,” he said.
Ang Chanrith, executive director of the Minority Rights Organization (MIRO), said he welcomed the census, but called on officials to be “transparent about what they are doing”.
“So far I haven’t seen their schedule or how [the information] will be collected or how it will be used,” he said.
“We are concerned regarding the Vietnamese born in Cambodia … [many are] living in Cambodia illegally even though they’ve been here for generations.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ALICE CUDDY