Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Four more refugees say yes to Kingdom: official

Four more refugees say yes to Kingdom: official

Four more refugees say yes to Kingdom: official

A second group of refugees – including three Iranians and a Rohingya – have agreed to settle in Cambodia under a controversial $A40 million resettlement arrangement with Australia, a government official confirmed yesterday.

Interior Ministry spokesman General Khieu Sopheak said a Cambodian delegation would soon travel to the Pacific Island of Nauru to meet the group, whose ethnic make-up is identical to the first four arrivals who touched down in June.

“We have information that four more refugees from Nauru have agreed to resettle in Cambodia,” Sopheak said.

“We will send our expert officials to interview them. The date [for the trip] could be set for the end of this month or early October.”

Sopheak’s comments follow a surprise two-day visit by Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to Phnom Penh this week, during which he held talks with Prime Minister Hun Sen and senior Cambodian immigration officials.

The discussions came after comments made by Sopheak that were interpreted by foreign media outlets as signalling the deal was in jeopardy and also followed the decision by one of the original arrivals, a Rohingya man, to apply to return home to Myanmar after only two months in Cambodia.

Sopheak said the new group’s decision to volunteer had been confirmed prior to meetings with Dutton.

Sopheak – who was unable to confirm the gender of the new group of volunteers – said Cambodian officials wanted to meet the four to ensure they had, in fact, volunteered.

Referring to the group – and the Rohingya man set to return to Myanmar – Sopheak said that the government “respects the will of the refugees” as to whether they wanted to reside in the Kingdom.

“We don’t want to see them committing suicide,” he added jokingly.

In exchange for $28 million in aid and an additional $10.8 million to cover resettlement costs, Cambodia agreed last September to host refugees held in the Australian-run detention camp on Nauru.

However, only four people initially took up the offer.Since then, the Australian government has faced mounting pressure over an arrangement already widely slammed by human rights groups and the UN.

Critics say Canberra is shirking its responsibilities under international law by transferring refugees to a country with a poor human rights record.

Yesterday, a spokesperson for Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection said “a number of refugees in Nauru” had expressed an interest in settling in Cambodia, adding that the Australian Government would make announcements “when appropriate”.


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australian police investigating death threat against Kem Ley's widow

    Updated: 10:17am, Friday March 23, 2018 Australian authorities on Thursday confirmed they have launched an investigation into a crudely written death threat sent tothe family of slain political analyst Kem Ley and Victoria state MP Hong Lim. The typed letter, reported to Victoria police last week, is

  • Apparel groups including H&M and Gap urge Cambodia garment industry reform, seek meeting with Hun Sen

    A group representing some of the largest apparel brands in the US and Europe – including Gap, H&M and ASOS – expressed “growing concern” on Tuesday over several controversial labour laws and ongoing court cases against unionists described as restrictive and unjust. In an open letter

  • Hun Sen says Montagnards don’t exist in Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen once again attacked ex-opposition leader Sam Rainsy for pledging “autonomy” to Montagnards, claiming – seemingly incorrectly – the ethnic minority does not exist in Cambodia. “We respect all minorities such as Jarai, Steang, Phnong, but we have never had Montagnards,” the premier said