It has been almost three decades since the Cambodian people have known the peace and security of their homeland. After surviving 30 years of civil war and living in refugee camps on the Thai border for 15 years, 380,000 Cambodians were finally repatriated in 1992. This historic event was documented in a powerful 2002 documentary entitled “Return to the Homeland,” which paints an insightful picture of the often-overlooked plight of this long-suffering people.
Cambodia had endured more than 30 years of conflict before it was finally allowed its independence in 1993. During this period, over a million people were killed while hundreds of thousands more were forced to abandon their homes and flee to safety in Thailand or other parts of Asia. Those who stayed behind even faced the risk of being sent off to labor camps or executed as punishment for alleged political offenses.
The repatriation effort led by United Nations was a massive undertaking involving over 340,000 individuals and their families who had fled from the violence that plagued Cambodia during that time period. In order to successfully resettle these refugees, new villages had to be built across the country for them with assistance from UN agencies such as UNHCR and WFP as well as from international sponsors like USAID.
Although many challenges still lay ahead following their return home, there have been some successes due to the help provided by these organizations: primary school attendance rose from 42 percent pre-repatriation to 96 percent in 2005; health care services also improved with access rates reaching 73 percent; and most importantly employment opportunities increased with many former refugees taking on jobs as farmers, fishermen, factory workers etc..
The documentary “Return to the Homeland” provides a unique perspective into these events by exploring what life was like for those who made it back home after all those years away from it. Through interviews and footage captured during that period we get an intimate look at how they coped with rebuilding their lives after so much destruction and displacement; as well as how they found hope amidst adversity despite many difficult circumstances.
If you are looking for an inspiring story about resilience against extraordinary odds then don’t miss out on “Return To The Homeland” – it will leave you appreciating life all the more!