BANGKOM (AP) - Despite a recent attack by Phnom Penh government troops, refugees
continue to enter the only U.N.-aided resettlement village in Khmer Rouge territory
in Cambodia, a western diplomat said on May 4.
Since the April 25 attack, 70 people have moved into Yei Ath, a village of 6,000
about 310 km northwest of Phnom Penh near the Thai border, the diplomat said.
"Some come all the way from eastern Cambodia," he said. "There is
extensive land available in Yei Ath that is not mined, and land is the key issue
for Cambodians right now."
Mines sown in fields throughout Cambodia, the return of more than 360,000 refugees
from Thailand and deteriorating security conditions have placed farmland at a premium.
In January, the Khmer Rouge began allowing refugees to resettle in Yei Ath. It also
agreed to allow a U.N. refugee official, civilian policemen of the U.N. peacekeeping
operation and a Western relief agency to base themselves there to help refugees resettle
and to ensure their safety.
On Apr. 25, Cambodian People's Armed Forces (CPAF) attacked Yei Ath, firing small
arms and mortars. The soldiers reportedly robbed and harassed about 50 families before
withdrawing. No one was injured.
As many as half of the Yei Ath residents were refugees repatriated from camps along
the Thai border.
An American refugee policy analyst, Court Robinson, described Yei Ath as "the
model settlement site they couldn't get going in the areas controlled by the government."
Many of the new settlers found jobs in logging operations along the nearby Thai border,