Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Refugee deal praised, again

Refugee deal praised, again

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (right) speaks to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (right) speaks to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (left) during a meeting at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh in February. AFP

Refugee deal praised, again

Prime Minister Hun Sen and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop met at the sidelines of the Asia-Europe Summit in Milan on Friday, doubling down on their support for the refugee deal signed in Cambodia last month, despite heavy criticism from human rights groups.

Bishop expressed “profound thanks” to Hun Sen for strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two countries, said foreign affairs attaché to the prime minister Kao Kim Hourn at a press briefing at the Phnom Penh International Airport.

Hun Sen told Bishop the deal was part of Cambodia’s international obligation as a signatory to the United Nations’ refugee convention and related protocols, stressing that all refugees sent to Cambodia must be volunteers, said Kim Hourn, adding that there was no exact date set for the arrival of the refugees.

However, last month, secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Long Visalo told reporters that a small group will likely arrive in Phnom Penh by the end of this year or early next year.

Sok Phal, director of the Interior Ministry’s department of immigration, said yesterday that a date for refugees to travel to Cambodia has yet to be established.

“We are waiting for Australia to respond to us,” Phal said.

Cambodian officials are set to depart for the Republic of Nauru to find refugees who are willing to come to the Kingdom for the officially voluntary scheme, although many on the remote Pacific island have said they would not take the step.

Earlier this month, some refugees sewed their mouths shut in an act of protest over the deal.

On Saturday, hundreds of demonstrators streamed through Phnom Penh calling for the agreement to be cancelled.

They delivered petitions to various governmental institutions such as the National Assembly and protested in front of the Australian Embassy.

Hun Sen also met with Thailand’s Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha during the summit, discussing his upcoming visit to the Cambodia on October 30.

MOST VIEWED

  • Construction begins on $1.5B Kampot seaport

    The International Multi-Purpose Logistics and Port Centre, principally invested by Kampot Logistics and Port Co Ltd and projected to cost $1.5 billion, has officially broken ground in Bokor town, Kampot province. The multi-purpose logistics and port centre, located in Prek Tnaot commune, will be built on

  • Cambodia eyes key role in electronics, auto hubs in SEA

    Two roadmaps, part of the LDC’s economic diversification plan, were designed to see it through its migration process, but experts say the journey might be arduous, particularly in the presence of two established hubs in the region By 2028, Cambodia hopes to have exited the

  • Hun Neng, lawmaker and PM’s brother, passes away aged 72

    Hun Neng, chairman of the 4th Commission of the National Assembly, has passed away from heart disease at the age of 72 on the afternoon of May 5, according to the Ministry of Information. Hun Neng is the older brother of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and was

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • PM meets with US business giants

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has met with a number of major US companies who have expressed interest in investing in Cambodia, in a meeting convened by the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC). A delegation of companies – including Amazon, Meta, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Ford, Visa and Pernod

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with