Refugee resettlement deal imminent, says Cambodia | Cruise Mekong River

Refugee resettlement deal imminent, says Cambodia

Tent accommodation at the federal government's offshore detention centre in Nauru.
Under the proposed deal, refugees transferred to Nauru would be resettled in Cambodia, one of the world’s poorest nations. Photograph: Department of Immigration/AAP

A refugee resettlement deal between Australia and Cambodia is imminent, with the Cambodian government preparing to send a memorandum of understanding back to the Australian government in “a few days”.

The secretary of state in Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry, Ouch Borith, told the ABC a government working group had completed studying a draft resettlement proposal from the Australian government and was hoping to sign a deal “as soon as possible”.

“Cambodia wish to share its experiences and the responsibility with Australia on this issue,” Borith said.

Under the proposed deal, refugees transferred to Nauru are likely to be offered resettlement in Cambodia, one of the world’s poorest nations. Rumours of the deal have been circulating for months, following visits to Cambodia from the foreign minister, Julie Bishop, and immigration minister, Scott Morrison.

Numerous bodies have criticised the resettlement offer. A spokesman for the UNHCR, the United Nation’s refugee body, described resettlement in Cambodia as not a “durable” solution.

“A real solution is not to send them to a country that is still recovering from a horrible civil war that killed millions of its people … It’s not in the spirit of resettlement as far as I can tell,” said Tom Vargas, a regional protection adviser to the UNHCR.

Cambodia has also been criticised for its poor record on the rights of refugees. In 2009 Cambodia returned 20 Uighur asylum seekers fleeing persecution in China back to the country despite heavy criticism from the UN and the United States.

The ABC reported that only refugees who volunteered for resettlement would be moved to Cambodia.

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Cambodia | The Guardian

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