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Australia makes new PR push for Nauru refugees

Refugees hold signs during a protest against the Australia-Cambodia refugee deal last year on Nauru.
Refugees hold signs during a protest against the Australia-Cambodia refugee deal last year on Nauru. Photo supplied

Australia makes new PR push for Nauru refugees

Australia has begun another round of public relations campaigning in an attempt to persuade refugees on the Pacific island of Nauru to resettle in Cambodia under a controversial agreement signed last year.

A government contractor on Nauru, Connect Settlement Services, has reportedly been passing out leaflets in a camp reserved for single male asylum seekers, angering residents.

“In the last few days, Connect has started to put the Cambodian information sheet under the doors of every room in the single men’s camp,” said Ian Rintoul of the Refugee Action Coalition Sydney.

“This has really angered the men, who see it as harassment and mental torture. They said [they] have already rejected Cambodia.”

A Cambodian delegation visited Nauru in September and shortly afterwards, the government announced that two more refugees had agreed to resettle in Phnom Penh under the A$55 million (US$39.4 million) deal.

Australia has been seeking alternative third-country resettlement options, including the Philippines, which rejected the proposal. Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached yesterday.

Australian officials did not respond to a request for comment.

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