UNHCR concerns over Montagnards in Cambodia

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Babar Baloch to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR is deeply concerned at reports that Cambodian police are seeking 13 Montagnards with a view to deporting them to Viet Nam. The individuals are reportedly hiding in a border province in Cambodia's north-east after leaving Viet Nam in recent weeks. The group had indicated that they wish to seek asylum in Cambodia.

Since the creation of its Refugee Department in 2009, the Cambodian government has been responsible for receiving and adjudicating asylum claims. Both UNHCR and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have written to the Cambodian government urging that the 13 individuals be allowed to pursue refugee claims.

A joint UN-Government mission to the border area was suggested to better understand the situation and facilitate the claims of the individuals.

The involuntary return of the individuals to Viet Nam would represent a violation of international legal obligations which the government of the Kingdom of Cambodia has freely entered into. UNHCR strongly urges the government to refrain from --and instruct local authorities to refrain from - such action.

For more information on this topic, please contact:

  • In Bangkok, Vivian Tan (regional) on mobile +66 818 270 280
  • In Geneva, Babar Baloch on mobile +41 79 557 9106