Refugee Camp Torched in Cambodia as Police Stand By

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ROME, APRIL 17, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A camp of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Cambodia was sacked and set ablaze just one hour after hundreds of Vietnamese refugees were evacuated to Phnom Penh.



The UNCHR said the Cambodian police did nothing to avoid the devastation.

The Misna missionary agency reported that the incident, made public today, took place Monday in a camp of the province of Mondulkiri, from which the UNHCR had just moved 533 Vietnamese of the highland tribes, known as Montagnards. The majority of Montagnards are Christians persecuted by the Communist regime.

Recently, the Cambodian government decided that it would no longer welcome ethnic minorities from neighboring Vietnam. The United States has offered asylum to the Montagnards.

Mondulkiri´s chief of police said, "The refugee camp was set alight because there is no need for such structures in Cambodia."

Last year, more than 1,000 Montagnards fled into Cambodia after harsh repression by Vietnamese government troops against ethnic groups demanding more land and greater religious liberty.

Last month, 400 Vietnamese invaded the Cambodian refugee camp with the intention of forcing them to return to their country.