More Montagnards Arrive in Phnom Penh

Eleven more Montagnard asylum seekers arrived in Phnom Penh this week, bringing to 85 the number waiting to apply for refugee status, the U.N. said Tuesday.

“Following new arrivals at the end of May, the current number of Montagnards in Phnom Penh who are still awaiting registration as asylum seekers by the [Interior Ministry’s] refugee department has reached 85,” Wan-Hea Lee, country representative for the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in an email.

Ms. Lee said 13 other Montagnards—who claim to be fleeing persecution in Vietnam and were recognized as refugees in March—are still in Phnom Penh waiting for a third country to take them in.

During a diplomatic visit to Cambodia on Tuesday, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy and human rights Scott Busby said that as a signatory to the 1951 refugee convention, Cambodia had a responsibility to register the asylum seekers.

“I urged the foreign minister to allow those asylum seekers to register with the government of Cambodia and to have their claims to refugee status heard and adjudicated,” he said.

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