Lao authorities said they have completed the return of all Hmongs repatriated from Thailand last month, who had been staying at a temporary camp in Paksane province, back to their home villages or to new resettlement sites. And a group of visiting US lawmakers confirmed that the Hmongs have been well taken care of.
The Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement confirming that the 4,711 Hmongs who were repatriated from Huay Namkhao temporary camp in Khaokhor district of Phetchaboun province, in northeastern Thailand, between December 28-29, 2009, have all been returned to their home villages or sent to new resettlement sites. The majority of them chose to settle down in Bolikhamsay province and the new resettlement area in Kasi district, Vientiane province, while the rest went back to their home villages in Bokeo, Xiengkouang, Luangprabang, Xayabouly and Oudomsay provinces.
As for the 158 Hmongs who were held in a Nongkhai immigration jail and considered "People of Concern" by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Khenthong Nouanthasing said they had changed their minds and chose to return to Laos instead of waiting for resettlement in a third country, as they felt that they would be well taken care of and well provided for by the Lao government.
Meanwhile, a group of US lawmakers led by Congressman Eni Faleomavaega who paid a visit to the Hmong returnees at Phalak resettlement village in Vientiane province said that they found no evidence of mistreatment, harassment, or use of violence against the Hmongs in whichever way.
Mr. Faleomavaega also stressed that the good treatment of the returnees by the Lao government boded well for the strengthening of co-operation between the Lao and U.S. governments in various fields, ranging from UXO clearance to trade strengthening and cooperation on reducing global warming.
For their part, Lao officials have always maintained that they will provide assistance and take good care of the Hmongs, as asserted by the Deputy Chief of Staff Brigadier General Bouasieng Champaphanh, who spoke in his capacity as chairman of the Lao side of the Sub-committee on Lao-Thai Border Security:
“The assistance promised by the government of Laos to those who voluntarily return to resettle in the new development village includes providing them with 1) shelters and arable land for growing their food, 2) rice sufficiently for a year, 3)free electricity service for a year, 4) an initial pocket money of 300, 000 kip. And the government will also continue to build and improve roads and provide comprehensive basic services, such as providing education to Hmong children, primary public health care, clean water, and irrigation canals.