Not a single Montagnard asylum-seeker fleeing persecution in Vietnam has been granted asylum as the government prepares to wrap up the refugee petition process, the head of the Interior Ministry’s refugee department said on Monday.
“Not one of the Montagnards has passed as an asylum-seeker as of now, and we are scheduled to finish the interviews with those people in mid-December,” Tan Sovichea said.
He refused to say how many of the 159 Montagnards in Phnom Penh had been interviewed, but said many had exhausted the appeal process and would be returned to Vietnam with the help of the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
“We gave them one month for the appeal and the upper level already decided that they lost their rights to be asylum-seekers,” he said.
“We are not able to fix the date now for sending the Montagnards who failed the interview because it’s down to the UNHCR to communicate with Vietnam to help them return home.”
The UNHCR said on Monday that it had no concrete plans to return the asylum-seekers to Vietnam.
pheap@cambodiadaily.com
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