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Cambodian delegation to visit refugees on Nauru

A high-level delegation of Cambodian officials will next week travel to the South Pacific island of Nauru to officially meet refugees that have the option of resettling in the Kingdom.

A spokesperson for Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton yesterday confirmed that the purpose of the trip would be “to speak to refugees living in the Nauruan community about settlement options in Cambodia”.

Interior Ministry Sar Kheng will travel to Australia on Tuesday and return on Friday, ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said. Ngy Chanphal, a secretary of state at the ministry, will also be part of the delegation.

Cambodian officials previously visited Nauru in January but said they met with only three refugees.

Sopheak declined to confirm whether Kheng would personally travel to Nauru.

Dutton last week told the Phnom Penh Post that the aim of the visit would be to convince three to five families to make the move to Cambodia.

He said that their successful resettlement would prove to the hundreds of refugees on Nauru and the many critics of the controversial deal signed last September that the arrangement is viable.

No refugees have yet put their hand up to come to Cambodia, but Dutton said he was sure that a handful of trial families could be found.

The bilateral arrangement has been blasted by rights groups since it was first floated last February, but the deportations of dozens of Montagnard asylum seekers in recent months without due process has heightened criticisms of the government’s commitment to refugee resettlement.

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