Refugees at Darwin, report says

Four refugees who are due to be resettled in Cambodia were flown to Darwin from Australia’s detention centre on Nauru over the weekend and are being housed in an immigration facility near the airport, a refugee advocate has said.

The Post first reported yesterday that the refugees had been flown to Australia in secret, without Australian immigration notifying their Cambodian counterparts, which was later confirmed to Australian media by a refugee advocate in Darwin.

Two adult men, from Myanmar and Iran, as well as an Iranian couple, were flown to Darwin on Sunday night, Darwin Asylum Seeker Support and Advocacy Network spokesman Ben Pynt told the Australian Associated Press yesterday.

A spokeswoman for Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton declined to respond to questions about the transfer, saying only that “arrangements are ongoing”. She also declined to give a breakdown of spending on the resettlement deal outlined in the country’s national budget, which was released on Tuesday.

Australia slashed aid budgets to Cambodia’s neighbours, but it appears the Kingdom’s funding was left in place, despite one development consultant suggesting that the country’s aid programs were some of the worst performing.

A spokesman for Cambodia’s Refugee Department said a final decision on the refugees’ applications was expected soon.

The refugees en route to Cambodia are thought to have accepted tens of thousands of dollars and other inducements to be part of the first group to sign up to the scheme.

Australia has pledged to cover all expenses for caring for the refugees, as well as provide an additional $31 million in aid to Cambodia.

SOURCE: THE PHNOM PENH POST