Cambodia has resettled its seventh refugee as part of a controversial, multimillion-dollar deal it struck with Australia in 2014, an Interior Ministry official confirmed on Thursday.
General Sok Phal, who runs the ministry’s immigration department, said the Syrian man arrived from Nauru—where Australia is holding refugees it has caught at sea trying to reach its shores—before Khmer New Year in mid-April.
In February, the department announced that two refugees on Nauru had volunteered for the resettlement scheme, which would have brought the number of people who have taken up the offer to eight.
But Gen. Phal said on Thursday that the second man, a Rohingya refugee from Burma, had decided to pull out.
“I don’t know exactly why he changed his mind, but I think he probably wants to go to the United States,” he said.
Last year, the U.S. agreed to resettle refugees from Australia’s offshore detention camps, though the offer appeared to be in peril after newly-elected U.S. President Donald Trump called it “a dumb deal.”
But the Trump administration has since agreed to honor the deal.
On Tuesday Reuters reported that U.S. officials had started “extreme vetting” of refugees at Australia’s detention camp on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.
The Syrian man who arrived in Cambodia last month will join the two others who made the same trip and are still here.
Of the first six refugees to arrive in Cambodia from Nauru, four have since opted to return to their home countries.
pheap@cambodiadaily.com
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