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ICC Note: Seven Montagnards scheduled to fly out of Cambodia as the fate of other twenty-nine hangs in balance. UNHCR is working tirelessly to convince the Cambodian government that the remaining Montagnards (a Christian ethnic minority) would face serious hardships if they are sent back to Vietnam. With that being said, Cambodian law does not require the government to deport the Montagnard refugees back to Vietnam and they should instead let UNHCR help them find new home.

09/14/2017 Cambodia (Phnom Penh Post) – Seven Montagnards who have been deemed refugees by the Cambodian government will soon be flown to the Philippines, according the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The fate of another 29 – whom the UNHCR has said have well-founded fears of persecution – hangs in the balance after their refugee claims were rejected, a decision UNHCR deemed “a grave error in judgment”.

The UNHCR’s assistant regional representative, Alistair Boulton, yesterday confirmed that the Philippines was “the location of our emergency transit mechanism [but] not the final destination”. He said “traditional resettlement countries are final destination”, but declined to name them, citing the “precariousness of their situation in Cambodia”.

Thirteen Montagnards who were also recognised as refugees after they fled Vietnam through the forests of Ratanakkiri in late 2014 were sent to the Philippines in May last year.

The Montagnards are a mostly Christian mountain ethnic group from Vietnam’s Central Highlands. In 2014 and 2015, hundreds escaped into Cambodia fleeing imprisonment and persecution. The majority have been returned to Vietnam, except for a group of 50 who fled to Thailand earlier this year.

Boulton said the UNHCR was trying to relocate the 29 rejected refugees, despite Cambodian authorities claiming the government has “no right” to transfer them to another country.

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