Australia is preparing to transfer refugees to Cambodia
Cambodia has approved the transfer of four refugees from Australia as part of a controversial agreement under which the south-east Asian nation has received almost $40 million in additional aid from Australia.
Australian Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, says that Australia is in the process of transferring a small group of refugees to Cambodia under a resettlement deal between the two countries.
The country’s strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen approved an Iranian couple, Iranian man and a Rohingya Muslim from Myanmar living permanently in Cambodia, one of Asia’s poorest nations.
A spokesman for Cambodia’s foreign minister, told the Phnom Penh Post that when the refugees arrive in the capital Phnom Penh remains undecided.
Under the agreement, signed last year, Cambodia has the right to veto any refugee who agreed to give up their hope of living in Australia to resettle in Cambodia. The Iranian couple and two single men were the only refugees among hundreds on Nauru who agreed to accept about $15,000 accommodation for a year, training, living costs and other benefits costing tens of thousands of dollars to make the journey.
After the refugees arrive in Phnom Penh they will be assigned a case manager and be provided villa or hotel accommodation. They will be assisted by the International Organisation for Migration, a multi-nation organisation set-up to assist refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.
Mr. Dutton has said he anticipates other refugees on Nauru will change their minds after the first group arrives in Cambodia.
The United Nations refugee agency has refused to be involved in the agreement which has been criticised by Cambodian opposition parties, many non-government organisations in Phnom Penh and human rights and refugee advocacy groups.
Almost all of the more than 60 refugees already living in the country say they have faced discrimination, been denied basic rights and are desperate to leave.
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