Australia transfers fifth refugee to Cambodia from Nauru

Under Australia’s $39.7 million deal to send refugees from offshore detention centres to Cambodia, fifth person leaves Nauru

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Australia and Cambodia signed deal to transfer refugees to Cambodia from detention on Nauru

Months after Australia's refugee resettlement policy saw four refugees transferred to Cambodia from detention on Nauru, a fifth person has taken up the offer and been quietly resettled as part of the A$55-million ($39.7 million) agreement.

Australia and Cambodia forged the deal in a champagne ceremony 14 months ago, but until the newest arrival last week, only three Iranians and a Muslim Rohingya man had made the move.

The Rohingya man, however, chose to return to Myanmar a few weeks ago.

International Organization for Migration spokesman Joe Lowry told Anadolu Agency on Thursday that “a male arrived last week, and he’ll be part of the cultural orientation program that we have been running up to now.”

“We are not in a position to disclose his provenance -- except to say he has come from Nauru -- nor anything else about him, because of confidentiality rules,” Lowry added.

The refugee’s arrival last week coincided with mounting tensions in the capital, as opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Sam Rainsy considered -- and then decided against -- a return to Cambodia and an awaiting prison sentence for defamation.

He had been visiting Japan and South Korea when the warrant was issued.

Although Australian officials on Nauru have been disseminating leaflets to refugees selling Cambodia as a safe and prosperous destination, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith, said this week that “any intensification of current events could bring Cambodia to a dangerous tipping point.”

Australia's hardline policy denies resettlement to all asylum seekers arriving by sea, even when they are found to be genuine refugees.

It outsources the processing of people attempting to get to the country by boat to offshore detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island.

Despite heavy criticism of the deal with Cambodia, Australia is reportedly on the verge of signing a similar agreement with the Philippines.