The Newsletter 65 Autumn 2013

Cambodian returnees' contributions to transformative change

Gea Wijers

The turbulence of a civil war (1970-1975), the Khmer Rouge takeover (1975-1979) and the Vietnamese intervention (1979-1989) forced many Cambodians into exile. Among the nations that offered refuge, America and France stand out in terms of numbers of Cambodian refugees accepted. Decades after these conflicts, members of the first generation refugees are returning to Cambodia. This first generation has combined their personal experiences of pre-conflict Cambodia, a prolonged stay in the country of exile, and a ‘reacquaintance’ with a post-conflict Cambodia that is emerging from its position as a ‘weak state’ under authoritarian leadership, to economic growth and relative political stability.

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