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Cambodia-Vietnamese Montagnards - 2004-07-20


Almost four-dozen members of a Vietnamese ethnic-minority group have emerged from months of hiding in thejungles of Cambodia to seek assistance from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

The U.N. agency has given protection to the 44 Vietnamese hill tribesmen, known as Montagnards, who had been hiding in the malaria-infested jungles of northeastern Cambodia since fleeing Vietnam last April.

They originally fled Vietnam after police used tear gas and truncheons to disperse thousands of the Christian tribesmen, who had gathered to protest religious persecution and the confiscation of their ancestral lands.

A similar protest in 2001 sent more than a thousand Montagnards fleeing across the border to Cambodia.

The 44 Montagnards came out of hiding Sunday in the Cambodian border province of Ratannakiri. They were short of food, and were suffering from a variety of ailments.

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