Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton pleaded with asylum seekers on Nauru to accept resettlement in Cambodia in a video message yesterday, two days after he hoped the first group of arrivals would touch down in Phnom Penh.
“Cambodian settlement presents a great opportunity for refugees to move forward and begin the next phase of their lives in a country that is free from persecution,” Dutton said in the video published by the Guardian, expected to be shown to those held on Nauru.
Dutton also said refugees who did not take up this initial offer could get less support.
“There’s no guarantee that this level of support will be offered to people who wait and do not commit to this first group.”
Australia has offered large cash payments to refugees and asylum seekers who choose to move now, possibly in contravention of the agreement with Cambodia, which stated that only those whose claims had been approved could be offered resettlement.
“The Minister’s video simply provided accurate and authoritative information on the Australian government’s commitment to support resettlement of refugees in Cambodia,” a spokesman for Dutton said.
Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition said a Cambodian delegation on Nauru had “only really been seen with Australian immigration officials” and that there was still no sign of a plane readied to bring refugees to Cambodia.