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R’kiri asylum seekers get to the capital

After spending five days hiding out in the forest in Ratanakkiri province, two teenage Montagnard asylum seekers made their way to Phnom Penh on Friday where they joined more than 100 others waiting to be registered.

The two males, aged 15 and 19, arrived in Cambodia on June 14 after allegedly swimming across the Sesan River. They had reportedly travelled into the country with seven others but the group separated after being chased by Vietnamese police.

An ethnic Jarai man in Ratanakkiri who has been helping the Montagnards said the two asylum seekers were brought to United Nations officials in Phnom Penh on Friday.

“We could not let them stay for too long in the forest,” explained the helper, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals. “It is difficult since some people are tracing us. Some villagers know about the hideout and I am afraid I will be arrested.”
Vivian Tan, a spokesperson with the UN refugee agency, confirmed the pair’s arrival.

“There are now 118 unregistered Montagnards in Phnom Penh, including the two previously in Ratanakkiri,”
she said.

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