Hot! Australia Plans to Transfer Refugees to Cambodia Under New Deal, Protests Break Out

Refugees seeking asylum in Australia and being held in the mandatory detention center on the South Pacific island of Nauru will be transferred to and resettled in Cambodia after a new, controversial deal was signed between the two countries, reports The Guardian.

The memorandum of understanding was signed by Australia’s immigration minister, Scott Morrison, and Cambodia’s interior minister, Sar Kheng, on Friday, September 26, 2014 in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.

The Cambodia Daily reports that Morrison said Australia will give Cambodia $40 million in aid over the next for years for development projects as part of the deal, in addition to bearing “the direct costs of the settlement arrangements” per the memorandum.

The deal has reportedly sparked protests from refugees at the Nauru refugee detention center and from Cambodians in Phnom Penh, as well as an international outcry from refugee advocates and the United Nations.

“Refugees being sent to Cambodia are being set up to fail in a poor country,” said Marc Purcell, the executive director of the Australian Council for International Development in a public statement. “Our aid money should not be used to sweeten the deal with one of our poorest neighbours. The government’s stated objectives for international aid are economic development and human development and this just looks like an inducement to take refugees off Australia’s hands.”

According to The Guardian, Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, who proposed the agreement in February, defended the deal saying, “Cambodia is very keen to get people into their country who can help them grow their economy. I don’t think it’s for you or me to tell Cambodia that they can’t offer themselves as a location for refugees.”

The operational guidelines of the deal state that “refugees will not be expelled against their will to other countries.” According to the U.N.’s latest data, there are 1,233 refugees in Nauru as of August 31, 2014.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, issued a statement and said, “Refugees are persons who are fleeing persecution or the life-threatening effects of armed conflict. They are entitled to better treatment than being shipped from one country to the next.”

Keep reading for the full story:

The Guardian – Australia signs controversial refugee transfer deal with Cambodia

The Cambodia Daily – Cambodia, Australia Ink Controversial Refugee Deal


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