PHNOM PENH —
As part an ongoing agreement with Australia, a second group of refugees is scheduled to arrive in Cambodia from the Pacific Island of Nauru next month.
Four refugees — three Iranian and one Rohingya from Myanmar — will arrive in October as part of a widely-criticized deal, under which Cambodia is reportedly receiving as much as $40 million in aid from Australia in exchange for accepting the asylum seekers.
Cambodian Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak announced the timeframe for the new arrivals on Monday. "The ministry is sending officials to interview them [in Nauru]," he said.
The move comes amid even sharper criticism now that Australia has agreed to take in some 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
“There should not be discrimination like this. Australia has shown its discrimination," said Ny Chakrya, a rights officer for the group Adhoc.
This new batch of refugees would be only the second group Cambodia would have taken in under the deal with Australia. One man in the first four-person group, which arrived in June, has already asked to return to Myanmar, the country he originally fled.
More than 600 refugees and asylum-seekers are thought to be on Nauru. Hundreds more are in detention on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island under an arrangement with Australia. Most are believed to be from countries in South Asia and the Middle East.
The proposed resettlement deal was the subject of months of secret negotiations and has drawn criticism from rights organizations, church groups and opposition politicians in both countries.
The United Nations Refugee Agency says it undermines the principles of the refugee convention to which both nations are a signatory.
This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.