Ministry Warns Against Traveling to Bangkok

The Foreign Ministry has war­ned Cambodians against traveling to Bangkok or surrounding areas in the wake of widespread protests in the Thai capital, according to a statement released Monday.

The warning was in response to violent clashes in recent days be­tween Thai soldiers and anti-government protesters, many of whom are supporters of ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shina­watra.

“Foreign Affairs has appealed to the Cambodian people not to go to Bangkok and the area around Bangkok, because it is out of control,” Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Kuy Kuong said by telephone Tuesday. “[Cambod­ians] should call our embassy in Bangkok for help if they are in danger, and they will be immediately taken to safety at the embassy.”

He added that he did not know how many Cambodians are currently in Bangkok.

The travel advisory only applies to Bangkok and surrounding areas, not to other parts of Thailand. It includes emergency phone numbers for Cambodian embassy officials in Bangkok, who were ans­wering their phones Tuesday.

Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kan­harith said the government had “no plans” to evacuate Cambodians from Bangkok.

“If there’s no problem, then no problem,” he said, adding that it was necessary to inform Cam­b­o­d­ians of the proper emergency procedure for “safety reasons.”

Banteay Meanchey provincial pol­ice chief Hun Hean said by telephone Tuesday that Cambodians have continued to cross into Thai­land at the Poipet international checkpoint, but added that he could not estimate how many were heading to Bangkok.

Meanwhile, Ho Vandy, co-chair of the government-private sector tourism working group, predicted that Thailand’s recent troubles won’t hurt Cambodian tourism.

He said that since last year’s protests, which shut down the Bangkok airport for more than a week, travel agents have been routing more tourists through other regional airports and booking more tour packages in Vietnam.

“This will not have as big of an eff­ect on Cambodia’s tourism,” he said.

  (Additional reporting by Bethany Lindsay and Tim Sturrock)

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