First refugees rejected by Australia land in Cambodia

Cambodia receives four asylum seekers from Australian detention as part of widely-criticised deal

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Four asylum seekers who had their claims rejected by Australia arrived in Cambodia on Thursday, under a controversial deal between the two countries to organise a resettlement project.

Two Iranian men, one Iranian woman and a Rohingya Muslim from Myanmar are the first refugees to be moved to Cambodia after being held in a detention center at the Pacific island nation of Nauru.

"They have arrived now, and we already handed them to the IOM [International Organization for Migration]," Chhay Bonna, the airport's chief immigration officer told AFP.

The deal between Cambodia and Australia was signed last September and has been criticised as activists say Australia is not taking responsibility for people and dumping them other countries with poor human rights record.

Cambodia accepted the refugees as a part of a four-year deal in return for 40 million Australian dollars ($32 million). Another nearly $10 million will be spent on the resettlement of the four, which is being facilitated by the International Organization for Migration.

The United Nations has condemned the agreement, drawing attention to Cambodia's own deportation of refugees, especially Vietnamese Montagnards who are discriminated against because of their Christian belief.

Human rights groups in Cambodia have also said that the developing nation is not a suitable destination for refugees.

According to Human Rights Watch, Cambodia still remains as one of the most corrupt nations on Earth, being placed 156th out 175 countries on Transparency International’s corruption index.

Australia has refused to grant asylum to migrants who arrive by boat to the country and sends them to detention centers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, even if they are genuine refugees.

The news of the resettlement plan comes as the migrant crisis in South Asia waters involving thousands of Rohingya Muslims fleeing persecution in Myanmar continues.The UN estimates that around 2,000 migrants are still at sea in the region.

TRTWorld and agencies