Cambodia has deported 1,246 foreigners from a total of 29 countries since a nationwide census began in August, an immigration department official said Thursday.
Uk Heisela, chief of the investigations department at the Interior Ministry’s immigration department, said the vast majority of deportees—1,001—were Vietnamese nationals, while Chinese and South Koreans were the second and third most deported nationalities, respectively.
“We arrested more than 700 Vietnamese people in Phnom Penh and we deported them to their country already,” Major General Heisela said, adding that most of the other illegal Vietnamese residents were found in Svay Rieng province.
The immigration department has previously reported that Indian, Russian, Nigerian, Thai, Filipino, French, North Korean and Afghan nationals have also been deported as part of the census.
Maj. Gen. Heisela said the census will likely end this week, but did not know exactly when.
“The Ministry of Interior will hold a meeting on the results of the census on January 15,” he added.
Lieutenant General Mam Srimvanna, the deputy general director of the immigration department, said those who were deported lacked a passport, visa or work permit—or all three.
Although Vietnamese citizens were the most commonly deported nationality, Mr. Srimvanna said all foreigners are susceptible to expulsion if they do not have the requisite papers, regardless of how long they have lived in the country.
“Foreigners who live in Cambodia must have enough documents,” Lt. Gen. Srimvanna said. “If they do not have enough documents, we will send them back to their country.”
Sim Chy, the director of the Association of Khmer-Vietnamese in the Kingdom of Cambodia, said he does not know how many Vietnamese nationals are currently living in the country, but his organization had in the past told them to stay in Cambodia legally.
“We have informed Vietnamese people who stay in Cambodia to respect Cambodia’s laws,” Mr. Chy said.
The end of the census also marks an increased effort by the government to enforce a rarely implemented law that requires all foreign nationals in the country on long-term business visas to hold work permits.
Labor Minister Ith Sam Heng said last week that the government plans to “strictly enforce” fines against foreigners who lack work permits in 2015.