The government has approved the transfer of two more refugees to Cambodia from the Pacific island of Nauru, where they are being held by Australia after failing to reach its shores by sea, an Interior Ministry official said on Thursday.
The two men, a Syrian and an ethnic Rohingya from Burma, had volunteered to resettle in Cambodia last month as part of a controversial resettlement deal signed with Canberra in 2014.
“The Interior Ministry will send the approval document to the Foreign Affairs Ministry so it can inform the Australians, who will prepare a flight for the pair,” said Tan Sovichea, head of the Interior Ministry’s refugee department.
As part of the deal, Cambodia agreed to take in an unspecified number of the hundreds of refugees being held on Nauru in return for an additional $30.4 million in aid from Australia.
But the resettlement has proved unpopular.
Only six refugees have been transferred to Cambodia, four of whom have since opted to return to their home countries, saying they felt unsafe and abandoned by officials.