High risks are at stake in trying to implement the peace settlement in Cambodia hatched by the Cambodian government, three guerrilla factions and 18 nations. But none higher than those of the first 600 Cambodians moved back to their homeland by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from camps in Thailand, where they have been living for as long as 18 years. They are prey to bandits, to millions of land mines, to murderous Khmer Rouge guerrillas who opposed this movement and to the ongoing war between the government and the Khmer Rouge.
Particularly the last. Never mind the peace settlement of October or the cease-fire dating from last May. The government of Hun Sen launched an offensive on Sunday to recover a stretch of highway linking Kompong Thom and Preah Vihear provinces in the north central part of the country, which the Khmer Rouge has been seizing. At issue is who will hold Kompong Thom when part of the force of 22,000 United Nations peace-keeping troops and civilians moves in. It is a case of the peace settlement provoking renewal of conflict.
There are good motives for removing the first of the 370,000 refugees from infamous camps in Thailand -- one of which ranks as Cambodia's second-ranking city -- where many are preyed upon by Khmer Rouge extortionists. They are a burden on Thailand, which wants them out. United Nations administrators want them home to take part in elections scheduled for early next year, during an interim U.N. administration, to get Cambodia restarted as a sovereign country.