Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Nauru refugee quietly arrives

Nauru refugee quietly arrives

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Refugees from an Australian-run detention centre in Nauru and their handlers leave Phnom Penh International Airport in 2015 after travelling to the Kingdom for resettlement. Pha Lina

Nauru refugee quietly arrives

The Australian government has quietly transferred another refugee from Nauru to Cambodia, the Kingdom’s refugee director confirmed this week.

The man, who fled war-torn Syria, was sent from the island detention centre of Nauru to Phnom Penh before Khmer New Year, according to General Tan Sovichea, head of the Interior Ministry’s Refugee Department.

The Syrian man was one of two refugees who had expressed interest in relocating to the Kingdom in recent months. But Sovichea said on Tuesday that the second man had in the end “changed his mind”.

“They volunteered to come to Cambodia, they already were approved to come, but when the date came, they withdrew the application,” he said.

The latest arrival is one of just seven refugees in Nauru to take up a contentious offer from the Australian government in which refugees who attempted to go to Australia by boat and who have spent years in indefinite offshore detention can choose to move to Cambodia instead, as they will not be resettled in Australia.

But of those seven, only three currently remain in the Kingdom, including Mohammed Rashid, a Rohingya Muslim refugee from Myanmar, and a Syrian man, who has asked to be identified only by his first name, Abdullah. The other four – a man from Myanmar and three Iraqi refugees – returned to their homelands.

The controversial resettlement deal was struck in 2014 after Australia agreed to give some A$40 million in aid to Cambodia.

A spokesperson from the International Organization for Migration confirmed that the group is “still providing support services to refugees who voluntarily opt to come to Cambodia from Nauru”, but said they could not discuss particular cases, citing confidentiality reasons.

Contacted over the weekend, a spokesperson from the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection said in an email that the “arrangement provides refugees with the support they need to integrate into the Cambodian community and build new lives”.

“The governments of Australia and Cambodia remain committed to the arrangement which allows refugees in Nauru to settle in Cambodia,” the spokesperson said, adding the refugees’ privacy should be respected.

Australia’s policy of offshore detention has been labelled “cruel in the extreme” by rights group Amnesty International, while a trove of incident reports, dubbed the “Nauru Files” and published by the Guardian last year, revealed a litany of human rights abuses on the island.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry issues warning over coronavirus outbreak

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday asked the public to be on “high alert” as a new virus wreaks havoc across Asia. However, no cases have been reported in the Kingdom thus far. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has raised the alarm for its similarity to

  • First case of coronavirus reported in the Kingdom

    Cambodia reported its first case of the deadly 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on Monday, Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng announced. He said medical specialists detected the virus in a Chinese tourist in Sihanoukville. The minister said Jia Jianhua, 60, travelled from Wuhan city, where the outbreak

  • PM urges precaution amid virus outbreak

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday called on all Cambodians to bump up precautions to avoid contracting the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has already killed more than 50 people in China. The prime minister told the public to remain calm but alert about the possibility of

  • Gov’t slams NGO over 2019 corruption report

    The government on Thursday slammed a report that described the Kingdom as highly corrupt. Government spokesperson Phay Siphan dismissed the latest Transparency International (TI) report as “just an advertisement of NGOs to promote their own interests”. Released on Thursday, the report puts Cambodia near the

  • Gov’t answers garment buyers’ complaint

    Some of the biggest buyers in the Kingdom’s garment sector have urged Prime Minister Hun Sen to address issues faced by unions and workers – a request a senior official said was out of touch with the situation on the ground. The letter addressed to

  • NBC’s digital payments to go live in next few months

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) will launch a Blockchain-based, peer-to-peer payment and money transfer platform in the next few months, its director-general Chea Serey told The Post on Monday. Dubbed ‘Project Bakong’, the scheme already has the support of 11 banks, with many more expected