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Doubts cast on more Nauru refugee arrivals

Participants at a vigil in Australia on Wednesday observe a minute silence for two refugees who set themselves on fire on Nauru. AFP
Participants at a vigil in Australia on Wednesday observe a minute silence for two refugees who set themselves on fire on Nauru. AFP

Doubts cast on more Nauru refugee arrivals

Cambodian immigration authorities yesterday confirmed they were told two new refugees on Nauru had volunteered to re-settle in the Kingdom, but as the Australian government remained tight-lipped, refugee advocates cast doubt on the news.

Tan Sovichea, refugee director of the Interior Ministry’s immigration department, said the Australian government informed them of two potential new arrivals last month, although no official paperwork had been received.

But Sovichea said after recent cases of self-immolation on Nauru, the Australian government was “now very quiet”. Iranian refugee Omid Masoumali died last Friday and Somali woman Hodan Yasi was left in a critical condition on Monday after both set themselves on fire.

One refugee on Nauru, who asked to remain anonymous, said they were unaware of anyone who had put up their hand for the scheme. “No, there is no one willing to go to Cambodia. I am 100 per cent sure about this,” they said.

An Australian department of immigration spokesman would not confirm if they had notified the Cambodian authorities of two new transferees, but reiterated that both nations “remain committed” to the deal.

Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said the notion was “pretty doubtful”, despite the “complete social meltdown” on Nauru.

Mohammed Rashid, a Rohingya refugee who transferred to Cambodia under the scheme in November, said yesterday he would not advise anyone to follow in his footsteps.

Three of five refugees to come to Cambodia under the $A55 million scheme have returned to their home countries.

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