THE 56 Khmer Krom refugees deported by Thai immigration police Friday have begun the long process of finding their feet in Cambodia, but rights groups say the state has so far provided no support to the group.
Chea Sokun, secretary of the Independent Democracy of Informal Economic Association, an NGO that sheltered the deportees after their arrival at the Poipet border crossing, said they left the office Monday evening.
Some were bound for the Banteay Meanchey capital Sisophon, where there is already a small community of Khmer Krom exiles, while others stayed in Poipet.
"They seem to be safe now because no authorities came to interfere with them," Chea Sokun said.
But other rights groups said the authorities had done little to help the deportees find shelter or work, adding that they were still relying on the charity of NGOs and Khmer Krom exiles.
"We did not know about their future and we have not yet arranged any living for them," said Soum Chankea, a provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc.
Chao Veasna, the assistant to Yont Tharo, a Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker in Banteay Meanchey province, said 29 of the exiles had found shelter at Tuol Prasat, about 2 kilometres from Poipet, but that one monk in the group still lacks a place to stay.
"I don't know how long they will stay here... I asked them and they told me that they want to live in a third country ... when they fled from Vietnam," he said.
He added that another deportee was still missing following reports from Monday that he had been arrested in Battambang province.
Banteay Meanchey police commissioner Hun Hean said the government had no plans to give the deportees shelter, adding that they should return to their old homes, even though the deportees claim they are from southern Vietnam.
"We have no means to help them," he said. "Cambodia is very large - they can live wherever they want."