Giving hope to persecuted Christians since 1995
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by Sebastian Strangio  
2/18/11 Vietnam (PhnomPenhPost) – Vietname has praised this week’s closure of a United Nations refugee safe house in Phnom

Penh, following the voluntary return of 10 Montagnard asylum seekers from Cambodia on

Wednesday.

In comments reported by Vietnamese state media, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong

Nga said Hanoi appreciated the cooperation of the Cambodian government, which ordered the

site closed in late November.

“The Vietnamese Government highly values the Cambodian Government’s close collaboration with

Vietnam and the United Nations agency for refugees (UNHCR) over the years in settling the

number of people in the temporary camp,” she said.

The comments came as 10 Montagnards from the Sen Sok district site returned to Vietnam

yesterday after having claims for asylum rejected by UNHCR. “They are back in their village

now,” said Kitty McKinsey, the agency’s regional spokeswoman.

Of the 75 who were living at the Sen Sok district site at the time the closure was announced,

54 have already departed for Canada and the United States. McKinsey said one more person was

awaiting travel to the US as a migrant, while the remaining 10 refugees were being housed

“elsewhere” in the city pending their emigration from Cambodia.

The closure of the site marks the end of a 2005 agreement between Cambodia, Vietnam and UNHCR

governing the processing of Montagnard asylum seekers.

Rights groups say that continuing persecution of Montagnard Christians in Vietnam made it

“imperative” that Cambodia continue to guarantee their right to seek asylum.

Nguyen from the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry dismissed the concerns, saying ethnic minority

returnees have been “assisted to stabilise their life and reintegrate into the community”.

McKinsey said that since 2005, UNHCR has conducted more than 25 monitoring missions to check

on Montagnard asylum seekers who have returned from abroad, pledging that the agency would

follow up on the new arrivals.

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