The first group of refugees to arrive in Cambodia as part of a controversial deal the government signed with Australia last year are now renting their own apartments and searching for jobs, having left their temporary accommodations in Phnom Penh, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Friday.
The four refugees—three Iranians and a Rohingya man from Burma—arrived in Phnom Penh from the South Pacific island of Nauru onJune 4 and were sent to live in a gated villa in the city’s south.
On Thursday, following a meeting in Australia between Sok Phal, chief of the Interior Ministry’s immigration department, and Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, Mr. Dutton’s office announced that the refugees had moved out.
Contacted on Friday, Kristin Dadey, program manager of the IOM’s Refugee Settlement Program, said the refugees were now renting their own apartments and searching for employment.And while the group has not yet received official residency cards, she said, they had been furnished with temporary identification cards.
“IOM can confirm that some of the refugees have moved out of the temporary accommodation and into the community,” Ms. Dadey said in an email, declining to say whether they were still in Phnom Penh.
“The refugees from Nauru have been issued with refugee I.D. cards, which aims to help them with access to services and employment. For example, they have also been able to open bank accounts,” she said.
“They are renting their own apartments. As the settlement services provider, IOM is in the process of helping them find job opportunities, and yes, there are several promising opportunities out there now,” she added.
On Tuesday, Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said that the Rohingya refugee, who had asked to return to Burma, was scheduled to have departed the country on October 11.
General Sopheak said on Friday that he believed the man had left, but that he could not confirm his departure. Ms. Dadey declined to comment on his whereabouts.