Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Australia to give $12m in refugee funding

Australia to give $12m in refugee funding

Scott Morrison and Sar Kheng
Scott Morrison and Sar Kheng shake hands at the Ministry of Interior in September last year after signing a A$40 million deal to resettle refugees in Cambodia. Heng Chivoan

Australia to give $12m in refugee funding

Australia will spend at least US$43.3 million to resettle a small number of refugees in Cambodia under an agreement signed in Phnom Penh last year, an official has said.

A Senate committee in Canberra was told yesterday that Australia would stump up A$15.5 million ($12 million) on top of an original pledge of A$40 million ($31 million) in aid to Cambodia.

The “[A]$15.5 million is for services to support the settlement of refugees in Cambodia, including health, education and training services. It is in addition to the [A]$40 million previously announced,” a spokesman for Australia’s Immigration Department said yesterday.

The money will go directly towards paying for services for the refugees, while the additional aid money will be transferred in instalments as and when refugees arrive over the coming years.

Only four refugees formerly detained on the Pacific island of Nauru, where Australia contracts a private security firm to run a detention centre, have so far accepted resettlement under the scheme.

The four – three Iranians and an ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar – have been housed at an Australian immigration facility near Darwin airport after being secretly flown to the northern Australian city earlier this month.

A spokesman for the Australian Taxpayers Alliance declined to comment on the use of public funds for resettlement as he had not previously been made aware of the quoted figure given yesterday to the Senate committee.

In its recently announced annual budget, Australia revealed it would cut aid to many of Cambodia’s neighbours, while leaving the Kingdom’s budget largely intact.

Australian immigration officials did not respond yesterday to a question about the expected transfer date for the four refugees to Cambodia.

Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, and Kerm Sarin, director of the ministry’s Refugee Department, said they were unaware of any imminent plans to move the group.

An Iranian refugee still on Nauru said recent assaults on the community, particularly a brutal sexual assault on a young woman last week, were adding to their distress, as many remained unwilling to move to Cambodia, a country they viewed as corrupt and impoverished.

“As a teenage girl, I don’t want anything but my freedom. I want to walk in the street and see shopping, buildings, crowds. I want to see my sister and my niece. This is too much that I want? I’m tired of pretending that I’m ok. I have too much pain in my heart and I can’t handle it anymore,” she said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway