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Interior Minister Travels To Meet With Officials, Refugees

Australian Immigration Minister Scot Morrison, left, walks is accompanied by Cambodian Interior Minister Sar Kheng, right, as they arriving for a signing ceremony of a controversial deal on resettlement of refugees inside the Interior Ministry, in Phnom Penh, file photo.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng left for Australia on Tuesday, to meet with officials there to discuss a controversial refugee deal.

He will also travel to the South Pacific island of Nauru, where five families are expected to take a deal and move to Cambodia, officials said.

Rights groups have condemned the deal as against the spirit of international humanitarian law.

Under the agreement, Cambodia gets $35 million in exchange for taking refugees who had sought asylum in Australia.

But critics say Cambodia can provide little for the refugees to start a new life and that it has little experience with refugee resettlement.

​Jason Evans, director of World Vision in Cambodia, said the deal is not in the best interest of Cambodian citizens “and may add additional strains on a country still experiencing high degrees of poverty.”