15 More Montagnards Seek Asylum in R’kiri

Fifteen more Montagnards ar­rived in Ratanakkiri province from Vietnam late last week seeking asylum, a rights worker said Wed­nesday.

Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said that the 15 crossed the border over the weekend, and are currently hiding in the forest with another group of 10 Montagnards who ar­rived around a week earlier.

“Fifteen Montagnards just ar­rived in Ratanakkiri province a few days ago,” Pen Bonnar said. “They are asking the UNHCR to help provide food for them and to get to them soon,” he added, referring to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Pen Bonnar said that five of the Montagnards have contracted malaria and that the groups are facing food shortages.

Provincial Governor Moung Poy said he had not received any information about the asylum seekers, nor had he received any instructions from the Interior Ministry as to what to do with them.

UNHCR spokeswoman Inge Sturkenboom said it would be difficult for her agency to provide food to the Montagnards as it does not have a Ratanakkiri office. “We are continuing to ask the government for permission [to go to Rat­anakkiri] and we have checked with them every day,” she said. “We are concerned about this re­port. We want to go soon,” she added.


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