JuiKnia letter to embassies

Your Excellency,

I am writing to deliver 47,685 voices from Cambodians both here and around the world who as part of the #JuiKnia campaign have called on governments like yours to keep their hearts and doors open to people forced to flee their homes.

As Cambodians we benefited in immeasurable ways from the willingness of world leaders to welcome us into their countries and communities when we had nowhere else to go, and we are devastated by the insufficient action of world leaders to the current unprecedented number of people forced to run from their homes, now more than 65 million people. We joined Oxfam’s worldwide campaign in support of people on the run because we know what it means to be faced with life and death decisions that present no good choices.

Forty years on from the Cambodian civil war, the tens of thousands of signatories to our open letter remind us all of the hope and transformation that can come from refugees that return home to rebuild their country or bring light to their communities wherever they have settled.

Oxfam and our partners Bophana Center, Cambodia Living Arts, Khmerican.com, Politikoffee, and Phare Ponleu Selpak joined together to share the experience of Cambodians who sought refuge elsewhere. We started this one month campaign to enable Cambodians to speak out – many were once refugees, welcomed and able to transform their suffering into new hope. Slowly, we recovered, many to return back home to help rebuild.

Domestically, this is an identity that connects Cambodians across current political and social divides. Our Cambodian values are universal values. We help each other - #JuiKnia. You can see some of the stories we have gathered from Cambodians alongside this letter, and on video on our website at http://cambodia.oxfam.org/juiknia.

We encourage you to forward this letter and accompanying testimonies to your governmental colleagues who work on migration and displacement policy.

We understand the complexity and difficulties that your country could face when you open to refugees and migrants. We thank you for demonstrating your leadership so far in contributing to resolving global refugee crisis. We urge you to do more. We sincerely hope that your government will take the necessary steps to support vulnerable women and children in need.

Yours sincerely,

Solinn Lim
Oxfam Country Director, Cambodia



1. The open letter to world leaders

Over the past month, at events across Cambodia and online, 47,685 people have signed the open letter below:

To World Leaders,

Right now, over 65 million people are being driven from their homes, threatened by death and destruction, leaving some of the most vulnerable (yet incredibly resilient) men, women and children without a safe place to live. These people have homes, they have family, and they have memories. If they were offered a choice, who would choose to leave their home with no other place to go?
In Cambodia 40 years ago, prolonged political turmoil and civil war almost killed our entire nation. Thankfully, we were saved, we were given hope, and many of us that were able to escape were welcomed to start a new life in another country. But what if the world had turned its back on us and shut the door during our time of crisis?

We have learnt, through our time of crisis, that Cambodian values are universal values. We help each other. #JuiKnia

We understand the difficulties and the concerns each of our countries could face; however, shutting the door to millions of vulnerable families and children only causes further suffering. We know because we too have experienced this.

As citizens of Cambodia and of the world, we urge you, World Leaders, to keep your doors and hearts open for those refugees in need as you did 40 years ago in our time of crisis.

Thank you for listening to our voices

2. Examples of refugee testimonies and messages

  1. What do I say to world leaders? Please show some compassion. Please give [refugees] a sign of hope. Please give them a new home - Phatry
  2. I was separated from my parents during the regime and became strong and survive. Life was not easy then and till this day I still have to deal with the trauma - Danielle Khim
  3. I hope the world leaders give refugees a chance and we all need that opportunity to have a better future - Monika Tep, Former Cambodian garment worker who found success in Hollywood, U.S.
  4. As I hope to return home [Cambodia] one day, I worked very hard to afford higher education during my time as refugee in the US because I believe that only education would help a poor child like me overcome poverty…and contribute to development of various communities around the world - Soneath Hor, Resident Representative of IFC in Timor-Leste
  5. Even if we are not refugee ourselves, we are living in the same world. We need to care about one another - Ham Sovanpidor, Department of Media and Communication
  6. “[After moving to the United States], though our involvement in different communities may seem contradictory, my parents and I just saw good people from different backgrounds, trying to survive in and improve the same neighborhoods we shared…
  7. Despite unimaginable suffering and loss, when refugees are given the right support, they thrive -- both in personal health and economically – and peacefully live together in the United States. This is not cognitive dissonance; it's actually already happening all over the world - said Charles Chear
  8. I had the chance to work a lot for Cambodian society because of the education I received from living abroad. I brought my knowledge back to share with my society - Sok Siphana, Managing Partner, SokSiphana & Associates
  9. Even though we face many difficulties, one day it will be get better. There will be someone who woll come and help. They won’t watch us die - Arn Chon Pond, Founder of Cambodian Living Arts & Khmer Magic Music Bus
  10. I had been a 12-year refugee who was repatriated to Cambodia in 1992 to join force in the reconstruction of our country. Now together we build a peaceful, democracy and prosperous country - said Vicheth Chan
  11. I have seen for myself the dignity, compassion and resilience of Cambodian people who have been refugees - demonstrated by their wish to help others - Diane Porter
  12. “The number of people who escaped from the war is tremendous due to political instability and the invasion from other countries which make those people become refugees - Siphan Phay, Spokesperson of Government of Cambodia
  13. We know that in the current world political situation politicians have restriction to refugees or those who escaped from war to find asylum. Cambodia must join in calling on the acceptance of refugees worldwide - Chay Son, Lawmaker of Cambodia National Rescue Party
  14. I am the descendant of refugees from Europe to America. One of the refugees of our family owned the first bookstore in the United States. The indigenous peoples of North America welcomed us hundreds of years ago. We must follow their example and do the same for the refugees of today - Justin Stokes

3. The campaign in summary

In just one month:

  • 172,696 people, primarily Cambodians, clicked, liked, shared and commented via Facebook
  • The campaign reached 1,171,947 people on Facebook
  • Leading Cambodian figures from across sectors shared their personal stories on their journey as a refugee. Special thanks to Sok Siphana, Arn Chorn Pond, Him Sophy, Phatry Derek Pan, Molika Tep and Nuon Sivin
  • In partnership with Bophana Center, we hosted the first screening in Cambodia of the international film “8 Borders, 8 Days” about the current Syrian refugee crisis
  • In partnership with Politikoffee and Bophana Center, we hosted the screening of the film, “The Roots Remain”
  • In partnership with Cambodian Living Arts, we engaged the audiences of their show at the National Museum on the campaign and its message
  • In partnership with Phare Ponleu Selpak, we engaged the audiences of Siem Reap and Battambang shows on the campaign and its message
  • Mobilized a fleet of Tuk Tuk’s to raise awareness throughout Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang province
  • 6 media agencies including Cambodia Television Network (CTN), Radio Free Asia (RFA), ThmeyThmey News, Voice of America (VOA, Women Media Center (WMC) and Vayo radio have participated and disseminated the message to public audiences
  • Op-ed about the campaign was published on Phnom Penh Post on 23 June 2017: http://bit.ly/2s7afJI