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Thirty more deportees arrive from US

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times Share:
A group of deportees arrive at Phnom Penh International Airport in December. KT/Mai Vireak

The General Identification Department yesterday processed 30 Cambodians deported by the United States over crimes committed while in the country.

The group arrived at Phnom Penh International Airport at about 7:30am yesterday before they were debriefed by immigration officials.

GID spokesman Prok May Oudom said that a local NGO has now been tasked with providing temporary lodgings.

“The 30 men are now in the hands of a local NGO,” Mr May Oudom said. “The department will provide IDs so they can access services as Cambodian citizens.”

In April, the US also deported 43 Cambodians, he added.

Emily Zeeberg, an information officer at the US embassy in Phnom Penh, confirmed in an email that the men were deported from the US.

“We continue to work with the Cambodian government on accepting the return of its nationals who are not eligible to remain in the United States,” Ms Zeeberg said, noting that the US embassy will provide assistance to local NGOs helping the returnees integrate into society.

Between 1975 and 2000, the US accepted 145,000 Cambodian refugees as part of an influx of Cambodians displaced by war.

Tan Sonec, executive director of the Khmer Vulnerability Aid Organisation, said yesterday that there are currently 22 individuals under the NGO’s care.

Mr Sonec said KVAO provides orientation, documentation assistance, basic medical support, employment assistance, legal monitoring, temporary housing and referral services.

“Deportation by force is a traumatising experience for many people because most of these people left Cambodia as very young children or were born in Thai refugee camps.

“They have little or no memory of Cambodia,” Mr. Sonec said. “Most have limited knowledge of the culture and language which can make their integration process very difficult. We are doing the best we can with our limited resources to help them.”

Mr Sonec said his organisation has recorded 669 people deported since June 2002.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said at least 534 possible deportees were waiting for travel documents from Cambodia, with some requests stretching back to 2008.

More than 1,900 Cambodian nationals living in the United States are faced with a deportation order, 1,142 of which have criminal convictions.

The US Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comment.

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