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.
Vladimir Makei noted that the former has been associated with global political instability resulting from wars, conflicts, terrorism, xenophobia and other factors – giving rise to mounting chaos and despondency. This predicament came about because there was no peace treaty to end the Cold War, as is usual in other major wars. “We were left without a universally accepted framework, which could have guided our subsequent behaviour,” he explained.“But it is never late to do what is right,” continued Mr. Makei, pointing to the possibility of a negotiating process in which key global powers collectively strategize on building new constructive relations. “Agreements emanating from the dialogue would, essentially, put an end to the last epochal war,” he explained, adding that the UN would have a role in its implementation.While the second world tendency – increased economic globalization – has contributed to progress and economic development, it appears that the majority of the world’s population did not benefit, especially over the last few decades. “As a result,” said Mr. Makei, “we have not been able to eliminate poverty, while inequality has been steadily on the rise.”Belarus believes that regional integration is a key feature of the contemporary world, as it leaves less room for political fragmentation. While acknowledging that everyone might not agree on the importance of tightening cooperation among regional integration processes, Mr. Makei said “what, however, we are firmly convinced of is that it is high time for all of us to demonstrate urgency in action and cooperation for the sake of peace and prosperity.”