Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Government set to close refugee site

Government set to close refugee site

Government set to close refugee site

Officials have confirmed a United Nations-administered refugee centre in Phnom Penh will close its doors today in line with a government order, bringing to an end a 2005 agreement governing the processing of Montagnard asylum seekers from Vietnam.
“The government stance is not changed. We will implement what we have set out,” said Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On November 29, the Foreign Ministry wrote to UNHCR to announce that the refugee centre would be shuttered at the end of the year. It also warned that any Montagnards remaining at the site faced deportation.

The deadline was eventually extended until February 15 following a request from the agency. The centre contained 76 Montagnards when the closure was announced, 62 of whom were registered refugees.

Fifty of the refugees departed for Canada ahead of the deadline last week, and an additional five have also left the country for the United States, said Kitty McKinsey, regional spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

She said 10 of the Montagnards at the site who were judged not to be refugees face voluntary return to Vietnam, while a further 10 were eligible to emigrate and will be moved to another location pending their departure.

“I understand that they’re going to be housed elsewhere in Phnom Penh,” McKinsey said. She said she did not know their destination, nor when are scheduled to leave.

Since 2001, around 2,000 Montagnards – as Vietnam’s highland ethnic minorities are collectively known – have fled to Cambodia due to alleged persecution by the Vietnamese authorities.

Koy Kuong said Montagnards “who have not been granted status” would be deported to their home country, though he did not mention the group that UNHCR said has been approved for emigration.

Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for Ministry of Interior, said yesterday that those Montagnards who have not been sent to third countries would be subject to Cambodian immigration law.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement