About 160,000 illegal Vietnamese immigrants have been living in Cambodia, officials said yesterday, while 1,200 illegal immigrants were deported in the first six months of this year as a result of an ongoing assessment.
Immigration Department chief Sok Phal said that in recent years, an increase of mostly Vietnamese illegal immigrants had more than doubled the number of known undocumented migrants in the country.
He said that a census carried out in 2002 found about 70,000 living here, rising to 100,000 in 2010.
“If we included the final results, the figures would be much higher,” he said.
He added that of the 1,200 deportations carried out this year, 98 per cent were Vietnamese and only about a quarter of the illegal arrivals had gone through official checkpoints.
Khat Sarath, director of the Bavet International Checkpoint on the border with Vietnam, said people without valid documentation would not be allowed to enter the country.
However, he said it was difficult to police the long, porous border.
“The Vietnamese mostly enter through the fields and jungles,” he said.
Phal said that a meeting last week with Vietnamese officials had led to a pledge to address the illegal immigration issue.