Government Approves Latest Refugee Transfer from Nauru

Interior Minister Sar Kheng has approved the resettlement to Cambodia of three refugees being held by Australia on the South Pacific island of Nauru, an immigration official said on Thursday.

The government confirmed earlier this month that the three men—from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka—had volunteered to come to Cambodia under a controversial resettlement plan the country signed with Australia in September 2014.

They will join the only other refugee still settled here under the deal, as four others who made the move from Nauru have since opted to return to their home countries.

Tan Sovichea, head of the refugee office at the Interior Ministry’s immigration department, said Australia was now free “to arrange airplane tickets for the three refugees and fix the exact date for their travel.”

Cambodia agreed to take in an unspecified number of the refugees being held on Nauru in exchange for an extra $30 million in aid from Australia.

Rights groups say Australia is shirking its international obligations for the several hundred refugees on Nauru by shunting them off to one of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the region.

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