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Montagnard meet: Word with immigration chief sought

Montagnard meet: Word with immigration chief sought

As conditions reportedly worsened for a group of Montagnards hiding in Ratanakkiri province, the United Nations yesterday said it was attempting to secure talks with immigration chief Sok Phal.

Wan-Hea Lee, country representative of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that OHCHR was “attempting to verify the facts with the Ministry of Interior and to this end have requested a meeting with General Sok Phal”, head of the Interior Ministry’s Immigration Department.

Villagers and activists in Ratanakkiri claim a group of Jarai Montagnards have arrived in the province in recent days fleeing persecution in Vietnam.

Their arrival comes just days after 13 Montagnards were given safe passage to Phnom Penh to make asylum claims, following weeks in hiding.

A local villager in contact with the group said conditions in the forests were taking their toll.

“Sometimes, they miss meals, and they have no blankets and mosquito nets and it is very cold,” the villager said.

Phal could not be reached yesterday.

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