In a statement released by its Bangkok-based regional office, the IOM also made public a set of conditions it had privately requested be honored before it would agree to help.
It said the government has given assurances that these conditions will be met, and stressed that any movement of refugees from Nauru to Cambodia must be strictly on a voluntary basis.
Listed among the conditions were “the possibility of family reunification for those refugees who seek it; the right to live and work anywhere in Cambodia; sufficient funding for all aspects of the programme to allow the refugees to establish self-agency and self-reliance, possibly to the point of naturalization for those who may need it.”
They also included: “efficient provision of recognized legal documents that would allow refugees to access health care, educational and employment opportunities; sufficient time to prepare the integration package for each refugee prior to arrival in Cambodia; and an agreement that all refugees in Cambodia, including those who are already in the country, would have access to similar entitlements.”
According to the statement, 400 people on Nauru who have had their statuses as refugees recognized are predominantly from Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, while another 800 are being held on the island, awaiting determination of their applications for asylum.
Should any decide to leave Nauru for Cambodia, the IOM said it would help in “pre-departure orientation; language training and pre-travel preparation; arranging transport to and reception in Cambodia; and working with partner organizations and local authorities to help refugees find work and access services after they arrive.”
It stressed that it would at no point be involved in discussing Cambodia as an option with the refugees prior to them making any decisions.
The signing of the $35-million deal between Australia’s then immigration minister Scott Morrison and Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng in Phnom Penh in September was 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.
Neither Sister Denise Coghlan, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in Phnom Penh, nor the Australia-based Refugee Action Coalition could be reached Monday.