Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Evicted ethnic Vietnamese face hunger at border

Evicted ethnic Vietnamese face hunger at border

Evicted ethnic Vietnamese face hunger at border

Almost four months after mooring lines were cut and their houseboats forced downstream

by armed police, about 900 ethnic Vietnamese floating villagers are confined to their

vessels on the Cambodian/Vietnamese border with dangerously low food supplies.

A worker with the human rights group Licadho told the Post that 180 of the 300 ethnic

Vietnamese families set adrift by municipal authorities on Oct 23 from Phnom Penh's

Meanchay District still remain frozen in legal limbo on the banks of the Bassac River

in the Cambodian border town of Moung Vou in Kandal.

The vast majority of the floating villagers were born in Cambodia, left the Kingdom

during the Pol Pot regime and returned in the early eighties.

Although many of the villagers possess Cambodian family books and voter registration

cards, municipal authorities classified the entire community as "illegal immigrants"

and sought their forcible return to Vietnam.

The villagers' lack of Vietnamese citizenship documents prevented their entry into

Vietnam, thus trapping them in a bureaucratic "Catch-22."

Barred from leaving the immediate area of their boats, the evictees are entirely

dependent on dwindling supplies of food provided by the World Food Program, the Licadho

worker said.

Surveys indicated that 95 per cent of the villagers would like to stay in Cambodia,

with the majority wanting to return to Phnom Penh.

"We're really worried about these people. ... Some people have already run out

of rice, while others have enough rice for perhaps one more week," the Licadho

worker explained. "There are at least eight people in need of medical attention

who are being prevented from leaving the area to visit local hospitals."

Residents have repeatedly reported that those who attempt to leave the area in order

to find work to buy food are subject to extortion by border police upon their return.

"Last week twelve people left the area and had to pay $200 to the police when

they returned," the Licadho worker said. "The people are watched all the

time and police regularly visit each boat to count the number of occupants to ensure

no-one has gone missing.

In response to the villagers' plight, the government official responsible for their

eviction, Phnom Penh Municipal Governor Chea Sophara, has told Licadho that he would

write letters to both the Cambodian Red Cross and the World Food Programme seeking

additional assistance for the displaced villagers.

MOST VIEWED

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Visa A holders get to quarantine at Himawari Hotel

    The Ministry of Health has permitted foreign diplomats, UN and International NGO officials to undergo quarantine at Himawari Hotel in the capital in case they do not have a separate place suitable for this purpose, but the government would not be responsible for the expenses.

  • Jabs for kids bring hope for school reopenings

    Cambodia is tentatively planning to reopen schools – at least at the secondary level – when the vaccination of children aged 12-17 is completed, even though daily transmissions and deaths in other age groups remain high. Schools across the country have been suspended since March 20, one month

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four

  • Governor: Covid subsides in capital

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng said the Covid-19 situation in the capital’s 14 districts has eased, with only two districts still recording a high number of infections. “Transmission cases in all districts are dropping, though they are relatively higher Meanchey and Por Sen Chey.

  • Hun Sen: Get 12-17 age group ready for Covid jabs

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has told parents of children aged 12-17 in Phnom Penh and the provinces of Kandal and Preah Sihanouk to get them ready for vaccinations soon. “There is a need to vaccinate children and youths aged 12 to 17. According to the statistics provided