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Government dismisses VN immigrant claims

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Vietnamese live along the Mekong river in Cambodia in 2015. Hong Menea

Government dismisses VN immigrant claims

Senior government officials on Wednesday rejected claims in a report by Hanoi-based daily, Viet Nam News (VNS), that quotes a senior Vietnamese official as saying that 70-80 per cent of its nationals living in the Kingdom are recognised by the Cambodian government, allowing them citizenship.

Keo Vanthan, the deputy director-general of the General Department of Immigration at the Ministry of Interior rejected the report, saying his department is seizing all irregular documents held by immigrants of every nationality.

“We are withdrawing [illegal documents] even if they are immigrants who have lived here a long time. The General Department of Immigration requires them to file applications to gain legal [status]."

“Some of them [have received] recognition from the [Ministry of Interior] and have permanent residence cards. But some of them have not and claim they hold Cambodian documents, but these were irregular so we withdrew them,” he said.

Luong Thanh Nghi said the Vietnamese community in the Kingdom had contributed to Cambodian development for hundreds of years.

It is estimated that around 110,000 Vietnamese live in Cambodia, with most residing around the Tonle Sap lake, VNS quoted him as saying.

His statement came after the Cambodian government seized more than 30,000 irregular documents held by foreigners from 10 nationalities. Nearly 90 per cent were held by Vietnamese.

“For years, Vietnam and Cambodia have cooperated in solving legal documentation [issues] for Vietnamese people living in Cambodia."

“In 2017, Cambodia issued a decision to review and cooperate with the Vietnamese government to offer legal documents for Vietnamese living in Cambodia,” Nghi said.

VNS said the measure was aimed at ensuring the stability of the Vietnamese community and to create a favourable climate for them to receive legal status and guarantee the same for their children so they could receive an education.

Nghi said that the Vietnamese in Cambodia usually faced difficulties due to a limited understanding of their culture and language.

Kirth Chantharith, the director-general of the General Department of Immigration at the Ministry of Interior, last week said the authorities had seized more than 30,000 irregular documents from immigrants, including family records, residence books, identity cards, birth certificates and passports.

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