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Cambodia: Second group returns to Viet Nam

Briefing notes

Cambodia: Second group returns to Viet Nam

18 March 2005

Thirteen Montagnards, including a woman and her 5-year-old son, returned today to Viet Nam under an agreement signed in January by UNHCR, Viet Nam and Cambodia. They are the second group to return to Viet Nam under this agreement, which seeks to find solutions for some 750 Montagnards who fled to Cambodia over the past year - most on the mistaken notion that UNHCR could help them resolve property disputes in their villages in Viet Nam's Central Highlands. Last week, nine Montagnards returned to Viet Nam.

This second group of 13 Montagnards, accompanied by representatives of UNHCR and Cambodia, set out this morning from a refugee centre in Phnom Penh, crossed the Bavet-Moc Bai border four hours later and were met by Vietnamese officials. Under the January agreement, Viet Nam gave guarantees that the returnees will not face harassment or prosecution. Nearly half of the Montagnards in Cambodia have opted to be resettled to third countries, including the United States, Finland and Canada. Around 20 others are awaiting repatriation to Viet Nam. Cambodia has insisted it will not allow the Montagnards to remain in Cambodia.