The controversial resettlement deal with Australia that could see refugees currently living on the South Pacific island of Nauru sent to Cambodia may not go ahead due to an apparent lack of interest, Interior Minister Sar Kheng said yesterday.
“We have not decided yet” on when to bring the refugees over, he said. “The principle remains, but whether they will come or not, we do not know.”
Kheng also said that Cambodian officials would visit Nauru again after a seemingly unsuccessful mission to the island last week.
“We are preparing our officials to visit [Nauru], but during the last visit, only three refugees came to meet with our officials,” he said. “The others refused to meet us, so we don’t know what to do. It’s still unclear whether the three who met us will come [to Cambodia] or not.”
Earlier reports suggested that no refugees had met with the Cambodian delegation.
Following the visit to Nauru, the International Organisation for Migration said it had tentatively agreed to take part in the resettlement scheme if certain unnamed conditions were met.
Kheng signed the deal with Australia’s then-Minister of Immigration and Border Affairs Scott Morrison on September 26.
Australia’s new immigration minister, Peter Dutton, told the ABC earlier this week that he would soon visit Phnom Penh to discuss the agreement with Cambodian officials, whom he described as “very credible to deal with”.