Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Refugee quartet OK’d for transfer

Refugee quartet OK’d for transfer

Refugee quartet OK’d for transfer

Cambodia has approved the transfer of four refugees from Australia who were previously housed on the Pacific island of Nauru to be resettled here under an agreement signed between the two countries last year.

General Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, yesterday said the approval from Prime Minister Hun Sen had been received on Wednesday.

“We just received the approval yesterday from the government. The government agreed for them to formally move to Cambodia. One is from Myanmar and three are from Iran. One of the Iranians is a woman,” he said.

On the exact arrival date of the four refugees, he said: “The process is going forward with the working group and with Australia; when they will exactly come is still undecided.”

The approval of the refugees for resettlement was made under a scheme signed between Interior Minister Sar Kheng and Australia’s former immigration minister Scott Morrison in Phnom Penh on September 26.

Australia agreed to fund the resettlement of an undetermined number of refugees and also provide an additional A$40 million (about US$31 million) in aid to Cambodia.

The group of refugees was flown in secretly from Nauru last week, according to a refugee advocacy group and refugees still on the island.

The deal has come under fire from rights groups and advocates, who warn that the refugees may suffer hardships in Cambodia, a country they say has a poor human rights record and offers little support to its own people, let alone refugees.

In its annual budget, Australia cut aid to most Southeast Asian countries, but spared Cambodia from the cull.

Last year, the Kingdom received A$79 million ($62 million) from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, official data show.

Phay Siphan, a spokesman for the Council of Ministers, yesterday said that the future of the deal depended on the number of refugees agreeing to resettle in Phnom Penh.

“The next steps of the agreement depend on them [refugees] volunteering to come,” he said. “We want to be very sure about them wanting to come here before we approve more [transfers].”

The refugees are thought to have accepted thousands of dollars in cash payments on the condition that they join the first group of arrivals under the deal. Previously, visits by delegations from Cambodia and Australia had failed to drum up interest in the resettlement scheme.

MOST VIEWED

  • US names new ambassador to Cambodia

    US President Donald Trump on Friday appointed W Patrick Murphy as the new US Ambassador to Cambodia, replacing incumbent William A Heidt. A press release posted on the White House’s website said nominee W Patrick Murphy is currently acting principal deputy assistant secretary at

  • Kingdom is at a crossroads between East, West after poll

    It was dubbed a success by caretaker prime minister Hun Sen after the electoral victory of his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which is poised to take all seats in the National Assembly. But the July 29 national election has not been positively looked at by

  • Chinese influence to sweep Kingdom?

    Growing Cambodia-China ties have seen the latter’s influence sweep across the Kingdom through increased investments and tourism. The Asian giant has become the leading source of foreign funds in Cambodia, fuelling the construction sector with huge casino and hotel projects. Much of the growth

  • Final poll results confirm first single-party Assembly

    IN an unprecedented situation in Cambodian politics, the official results of the July 29 national elections have declared that the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) will take all 125 seats in the National Assembly on the back of it receiving 76 per cent of the votes. The National