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Australia refugee transfer finalised

Cambodia has approved the transfer of four refugees from Australia previously housed on the Pacific island of Nauru to be resettled here under an agreement signed between the two countries last year.

General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said the approval from Prime Minister Hun Sen had been received on Wednesday.

“We just received the approval yesterday from the government. The government agreed for them to formally move to Cambodia. One is from Myanmar and three are from Iran. One of the Iranians is a woman,” he said.

“The process is going forward with the working group and with Australia; when they will exactly come is still undecided.”

The refugees were approved for resettlement under a scheme signed between Interior Minister Sar Kheng and Australia’s former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison in Phnom Penh on September 26.

Australia agreed to fund the resettlement of an undetermined number of refugees and also provide an additional A$40 million ($31 million) in aid to Cambodia.

The group of refugees was flown in secret from Nauru last week, according to a refugee advocacy group and refugees still on the island.

The deal has come under fire from rights groups and advocates, who warn that the refugees may suffer hardships in Cambodia, a country they say has a poor human rights record and offers little support to its own people, let alone refugees.

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