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Meeting highlights plight of refugees

A CONFERENCE highlighting the plight of Khmer Krom, Uighur and Hmong refugees held Friday in Rome has drawn international attention to ongoing problems faced by a group of Khmer Krom refugees in Cambodia.

Human rights groups, activists and foreign dignitaries attended the conference organised by the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO), which came two months after 24 Khmer Krom seeking asylum in Thailand were deported to Cambodia after fleeing alleged persecution in Vietnam.

The 24 Khmer Krom refugees still have not been granted identity documents by the Cambodian government, which prevents them from working or renting apartments, the group’s representative, Thach Soong, said Sunday.

He said the conference was exactly the type of exposure he had been trying to get from the international community, but he said he held little hope that the asylum seekers would be granted full citizenship.

“I’ve lost my hope of getting citizenship now as it has been more than two months,” he said. “Although the authorities visited us, gathered information about our group and took our photos, they only did this so the UN would stop pressuring them.”

Sous Sarin, chief of Boeung Tumpun commune, where the Khmer Krom are staying, said he had looked into their case but wasn’t responsible for granting citizenship documents.

Government officials have previously said the constitution grants all Khmer Krom the right to live in Cambodia.

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