Assistant High Commissioner winds up Asia mission with Viet Nam visit

Briefing Notes, 28 April 2006

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 28 April 2006, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Erika Feller, today wound up a five-day mission to Asia in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, where she agreed with the government that UNHCR and Viet Nam would continue their cooperation to resolve the issue of the ethnic minority Montagnards who had arrived in neighbouring Cambodia.

An agreement signed in Hanoi in January 2005 by UNHCR, Viet Nam and Cambodia set out the framework for some 750 Montagnards in Cambodia to either be resettled to a third country or return to Vie Nam. Most of that caseload, 605 persons, has now been resettled, mainly to the United States, with some 190 returning to Viet Nam including 94 who were deported and 96 who returned voluntarily.

During her visit to Viet Nam, Feller spent two days travelling in the Central Highlands where she saw for herself the conditions of returnees and spoke with them privately. UNHCR has conducted 10 other monitoring missions to the Highlands and has no serious concerns about the conditions of the returnees. The Vietnamese government said it would continue to give UNHCR access to the returnees in the Central Highlands saying the 2005 Memorandum of Understanding had worked well, and that the government would continue to work with UNHCR and other countries for those Montagnards who wished to live in other countries.