UN agency has ‘no serious concerns’ over Montagnard returnees in Viet Nam

28 April 2006

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said today it has “no serious concerns” over the conditions of around 200 Montagnards who have returned to Viet Nam from Cambodia, as a senior official from the agency visited Hanoi and agreed with the Government to continue joint cooperation to resolve the issue of the ethnic minority.

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said today it has “no serious concerns” over the conditions of around 200 Montagnards who have returned to Viet Nam from Cambodia, as a senior official from the agency visited Hanoi and agreed with the Government to continue joint cooperation to resolve the issue of the ethnic minority.

Before today’s discussions with Government officials, UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Erika Feller, had spent two days in the Central Highlands speaking privately with some of the 190 returnees and seeing for herself their conditions, an agency spokesman told reporters in Geneva.

“UNHCR has conducted 10 other monitoring missions to the Highlands and has no serious concerns about the conditions of the returnees,” said spokesperson Ron Redmond.

The Montagnards started arriving in Cambodia after April 2004 claiming religious persecution and land grievances as their reason for leaving their country, however UNHCR said that the returnees visited by Ms. Feller all told her they left because they had been promised by outsiders they would get money if they went to Cambodia and that they were looking for a better life.

An agreement signed in Hanoi in January 2005 by UNHCR, Viet Nam and Cambodia set out the framework for some 750 Montagnards in Cambodia to either be resettled to a third country or return to Viet Nam.

Most of that caseload, 605 persons, has now been resettled, mainly to the United States, while the 190 who have returned to Viet Nam include 94 who were deported and 96 who returned voluntarily.

“The Vietnamese government said it would continue to give UNHCR access to the returnees in the Central Highlands saying the 2005 Memorandum of Understanding had worked well, and that the government would continue to work with UNHCR and other countries for those Montagnards who wished to live in other countries,” Mr. Redmond said.

 

♦ Receive daily updates directly in your inbox - Subscribe here to a topic.
♦ Download the UN News app for your iOS or Android devices.