PHNOM PENH —
The second group of refugees from the South Pacific island of Nauru are expected to arrive in Cambodia in the near future, following a visit by officials to the island.
The refugees, both ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar, will come as part of a contentious deal with Australia, which has refused to take in the asylum seekers.
So far, only three Iranians are currently in Cambodia under the deal, following the return of one Rohingya man to Myanmar.
Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, told VOA Khmer on Wednesday that the ministry is waiting for a green light from top officials to take in two to four new refugees, though they currently only have two applications.
“We sent our officials to the island and they have already returned,” he said. “The only two refugees who volunteered to come are Rohingya from Myanmar. I have already submitted a report and a request to the government for further decision.”
In September, Cambodia and Australia agreed to take the second group of asylum seekers from Nauru, following a visit to Cambodia by Australian Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. The deal was announced the same day Australia said it would accept 12,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq.
The first set of refugees has been living in a compound in Phnom Penh, but they will be released soon, Khieu Sopheak said. “They can speak Khmer and understand our traditions and are ready to live outside the camp,” he said. “It’s just a pilot project, so we’ll see how they integrate into Khmer society and living outside [the compound]. It’s going forward; it’s not that difficult.”