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Thirty US deportees arrive

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Deportees from the US socialise in Battambang province earlier this year. A group of 30 deportees arrived in the capital on Wednesday as the government said many had not yet made contact with family members living in the Kingdom. Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP

Thirty US deportees arrive

Thirty Cambodian deportees from the US arrived at the Phnom Penh International Airport on Wednesday and, despite a government spokesperson saying they were all in good health, many have yet to make contact with their relatives in the Kingdom.

Interior Ministry general department of identification spokesperson Prok May Oudom said: “They arrived at the airport [on Wednesday] morning at 8am. Their health was just fine, and they are able to travel, based on our team’s report.”

However, Oudom said some of the arrivals have yet to get in touch with family members in the country as they are still being traced.

Never been to Cambodia

“We have not located their relatives or families as yet. One local NGO will be in charge of this and help find them. We will help as well. They will stay at the NGO for the next three months.

“Based on appearance alone, the arrivals look fine, but we don’t know their state of mind because they have been in the US since they were very young,” he said.

Most of those who have been deported arrived in the US as refugees and have never been to Cambodia or learned to speak Khmer.

Many were unaware they didn’t have citizenship when they committed the crimes that precipitated their deportation.

Khmer Vulnerability Aid Organisation executive director Tan Sonec said six people have already contacted their families who came to the airport to pick them up.

“We will continue to support them and teach them about Khmer culture . . . we have not seen anyone with health problems. We will continue to search for their families and support them until they are able to care for themselves,” he said.

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