Large communities of Vietnamese have recently been evicted from their floating villages on Cambodia's Tonle Sap lake. Photo: AFP

According to an official in Vietnam, about 70% to 80% of Vietnamese people living in Cambodia had obtained legal recognition that will help them obtain Cambodian citizenship, a claim treated with skepticism by the large Vietnamese community in the country.

Luong Thanh Nghi, the Deputy head of the State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs, told Vietnamese media that about 110,000 Vietnamese lived in Cambodia with most of them living around the Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, government controlled Viet Nam News reported.

The official admitted, however, that the Vietnamese community had been living and contributing to society in Cambodia but had an unclear legal status.

He added that Vietnamese and Cambodian officials had tried to address the issue. In 2017, the Cambodian government issued a decree to review and work with the Vietnamese government to grant documentation to Vietnamese people living in Cambodia after deporting many.

The objective of the move was to stabilize the community and to create favorable conditions for Vietnamese living in the country, officials claimed.

Vietnamese living in Cambodia have faced many obstacles culturally and legally, much of it due to being seen at the traditonal enemy of the Khmer people. Many Vietnamese living in Cambodia were not aware of the need to obtain legal recognition.

While officials claim that about 70% to 80% of the Vietnamese in Cambodia have now obtained legal recognition and papers of permanent residency in Cambodia, almost 70,000 were facing deportation.

Luong added that Vietnamese authorities hoped Vietnamese living in Cambodia could learn the Khmer language and also learn more about the local culture so they can try to integrate with local society.

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