170 Vietnamese asylum seekers given two weeks to leave

Almost two years since the latest wave of Montagnard asylum seekers began crossing into Ratanakkiri province claiming to be fleeing persecution in Vietnam, an immigration official said on October 12 that the 170 remaining in Phnom Penh had two weeks to return home or face forcible repatriation. Despite initially blocking the Montagnards from registering as refugees, in January the government announced the group could have their claims assessed. However, Kem Sarin, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry’s immigration department, said on October 12 that not a single one had been granted refugee status. “We have interviewed those Montagnard asylum seekers one by one for the last few months and we evaluated that those people have no right to receive asylum from a third country because their answers do not comply with the convention on refugees,” Mr. Sarin said of the U.N. convention signed by Cambodia.

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