Gov’t Denies Refugee Arrivals From Nauru Imminent

The Ministry of Interior on Sunday said no refugees from Nauru were expected to arrive in Cambodia for the next few days, contradicting recent comments from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

On Wednesday, the IOM said it was sending an official to the tiny South Pacific island nation within days “with the expectation of possible movements” of refugees to Cambodia. A letter distributed by the Australian Immigration Department to the refugees on Nauru said the first flight could leave Monday.

On Sunday, however, Khieu Sopheak, a spokesman for Cambodia’s Interior Ministry, said no arrivals were imminent and that there were not even any volunteers to come to Cambodia. “It’s not true,” he said of the claims that refugees would be arriving within days.

“We don’t know anyone [who] volunteered so far.” General Sopheak said Cambodia was sending another delegation to Nauru to look for refugees interested in resettling here.

He said the delegation, the third since January, would depart for Nauru by today.

Cambodia last year agreed to take in an unlimited number of the refugees that Australia is holding on Nauru in return for a $31-million aid package.

A spokeswoman for Australia’s immigration minister said Sunday that negotiations with some refugees who have expressed interest in moving to Cambodia were ongoing.

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