A total of 23 Montagnard asylum seekers, including one female, were transported to Phnom Penh between late April and mid June after hiding out in the forests of Ratanakkiri for months, an anonymous source said yesterday.
“We took them out of the forest and took [separate groups] to Phnom Penh five times,” an ethnic Jarai villager who has been assisting the asylum seekers said.
“We took them to a quiet place, where the Montagnards were handed over to the UN.”
Another helper in Andong Meas district said nine Montagnards, including two teenage girls, left Vietnam several days ago to head to Ratankkiri, but “they were chased [by Vietnamese police], so they tried to escape in different ways”, he said, adding that he is now assisting two of the men, who are hiding in the province’s sprawling woodland.
The UN refugee agency said yesterday that 116 Montagnard asylum seekers were awaiting processing in Phnom Penh, but said it is “unclear what the government plans to do with them”.