A government delegation that traveled to the South Pacific island nation of Nauru last week to study the possibility of resettling in Cambodia some of the refugees Australia is currently holding there will return to Phnom Penh on Monday, a government official said.
Cambodia signed a $35-million deal with Australia in September to take in an unspecified number of the refugees, but has yet to resettle any.
Contacted Sunday in Phnom Penh, Sok Veasna, a director in the Interior Ministry’s immigration department, said the department’s director of refugee services, Kerm Sarin, was leading the delegation.
“He is in Nauru and he is scheduled to come back tomorrow,” he said.
However, Mr. Veasna said he did not know what the delegates had done in Nauru, and other immigration department officials said the same. Mr. Sarin could not be reached.
The government has been silent on the trip, which was previously confirmed only by the Sydney-based Refugee Action Coalition, a nongovernment advocacy group, and the U.N. International Organization for Migration, which sent its own delegates to Nauru as observers.
On Friday, a spokesman for the Refugee Action Coalition, Ian Rintoul, said the Cambodian officials visited the island’s detention center and refugee camp.
He said a few asylum seekers were offered a chance to meet with the delegates but that all declined.