Montagnard Admitted to Ratanakkiri Hospital

A Montagnard asylum-seeker hiding in the jungles of Ratanak­kiri province was admitted to the provincial hospital in Banlung on Wednesday morning for suspected diabetes, officials said.

Ro Mas Lou of Vietnam’s Gia Lai province was brought out of hiding to the hospital by villagers at about 8 am, said Pen Bonnar, Adhoc provincial co­ordinator.

He added that the 20-year-old is one of 35 who slipped across the border from Vietnam on Friday.

“He is very seriously sick,” Pen Bonnar said. “The doctor allowed him to stay in the hospital until the [UN High Commissioner for Ref­u­­gees] comes.”

Pen Bonnar said the doctor told him the hospital has no insulin, and that the patient could die within days if he does not receive any.

Hor Ang, deputy provincial po­lice chief, said police have been in­formed of the case.

Although treatment for the asylum-seeker needs to be prioritized, he said, police have visited the hospital to determine whether he is a real refugee.

“If we find out he crossed into Cambodia illegally, we will send him back,” he said.

Hing Than Sor Kunthea, the hospital’s director, said his staff were examining the patient.

“We are doctors, so we have the right to treat all people…even if they are involved in politics,” he said.

“In the past people in civilian clothes tried to take Montagnards from our hospital, but we denied,” he added. “If anyone comes to take this patient, we will not hand them over. We respect the rule of the hos­pital.”

A UNHCR spokeswoman said she could not comment on individual cases.

The UNHCR and Adhoc said Monday that they have received re­ports that 52 asylum-seekers were apprehended in Ratanakkiri last week and deported to Vietnam.

Cambodian officials have said they have no information on the case.

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