Australia to resettle refugees in Cambodia

Immigration minister confirms transfer of small group from Nauru island will be first try in deal with Cambodia.

Australia to resettle refugees in Cambodia

World Bulletin / News Desk 

Australia’s immigration minister confirmed Thursday that a small group of refugees who had been detained on the South Pacific island of Nauru were in the process of being resettled in Cambodia.

"We have an arrangement with Cambodia, so people on Nauru we will try and transition them across to Cambodia," Peter Dutton told 2GB radio.

“There is a small group of people that will go across as a first try,” he added, saying it could serve as an opportunity to demonstrate that such transfers -- part of a controversial deal -- are a success on the ground.

"Hopefully they will be in Cambodia shortly," he said.

Dutton’s comments come after reports that four refugees -- including a Rohingya man, an Iranian man and an Iranian couple -- were moved Sunday from Nauru to Darwin International Airport. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that they were placed at an immigration accommodation near the airport.

Fairfax Media cited an unnamed source Wednesday as saying they could be transferred to Cambodia in the next two weeks.

Dutton said Thursday that the economy was transitioning in Cambodia, a third country where the refugees could start a new life.

He added that Australia’s government had been clear its policy that people who “arrived illegally into Australia by boat won't be staying in this country.”

A spokeswoman for Dutton refused to comment when contacted by Anadolu Agency. “Arrangements are ongoing and we haven’t been and won't be commenting further,” Merryn Royle said in an email.

The Phnom Penh Post cited a spokesman for Cambodia’s Refugee Department as saying Thursday that a final decision on the applications of the refugees was expected soon.

Australia and Cambodia inked a $35-million bilateral agreement last September, stipulating that only genuine refugees who volunteer to go will qualify for relocation to Cambodia.

The signing of the deal between Australia’s then immigration minister, Scott Morrison, and Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng in Phnom Penh had been met with widespread criticism. Refugee advocacy groups said Australia was shirking its obligations to the U.N. refugee convention by passing off vulnerable people to one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 14 Mayıs 2015, 13:44