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Vietnam repatriates Cambodian beggars

NEARLY 900 Cambodian beggars were repatriated from Vietnam by local authorities in 2009, officials said on Tuesday.

Nget Dara, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said a report from the Ministry of Social Affairs showed that Vietnamese authorities had repatriated 898 Cambodian beggars in eight waves this year.

He added that 603 children under the age of 18 were repatriated, and that 143 children were sent home after being involved in human trafficking – 84 of those were young girls.

“A poor standard of living forced them to leave home and cross the border illegally to beg in Vietnam,” he said. “They hear it is easier to find money there.”

Most of the beggars enter through the Bavet border crossing in Svay Rieng province, with most hailing from Chantrea, Kampong Rou and Bavet districts, he said.

He said that the report did not include totals of Vietnamese migrant workers who were sent from Cambodia, adding that the major concern was the repatriation of the Cambodian workers.

Heung Kheung, head of the Social Affairs Department in Phnom Penh, said the number of beggars returned to Cambodia had increased from 776 in 2008.

“We’ve cooperated with some NGOs to help [repatriated beggars] by providing vocational training, such as repairing motors and sewing, as well as providing a small loan to help them run a business in their community,” he said.

The Cambodian and Vietnamese governments signed a bilateral agreement on December 3 to increase cooperation in eliminating the trafficking of children and women.

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