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Cambodian Officials to Speak With Asylum Seekers in Nauru

FILE - An exterior view of the government offices of the small island nation of Nauru is pictured, February 10, 2012.

Two officials from Cambodia’s Interior Ministry departed Monday for Australia and the Pacific Island of Nauru, to ensure that an initial group of asylum seekers there will move to Cambodia, part of a controversial deal with Australia.

Five asylum seekers have reportedly agreed to take the deal and move to Cambodia, a country critics say is ill equipped to absorb refugees. Both Cambodia and Australia have been heavily criticized for the deal.


“Responding to the request of the Embassy of Australia, two officials will meet with asylum seekers to make clear whether they are volunteering or not [to come],” Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak said.

The five refugees are reported to be from Sri Lanka, Iran and Myanmar.

Cambodia has agreed to take more than 1,000 refugees who had sought asylum in Australia, in exchange for some $30 million in aid, in an agreement that rights workers say contravenes the spirit of international law.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.