Sri Lankan asylum seekers on Nauru set to go to Cambodia
April 20, 2015 04:17 pm
Five asylum seekers from Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Iran have agreed to be among the first to leave the Pacific island nation of Nauru for Cambodia under a deal that allows refugees rejected by Australia to be resettled in the Southeast Asian country, a refugee advocate said Monday.
Ian Rintoul, spokesman for the Australia-based advocacy group Refugee Action Coalition, said none of the five men had had their refugee claims accepted yet.
While the bilateral agreement signed last September stipulates that those resettled in Cambodia must be genuine refugees who volunteered to go, officials in Nauru were inviting asylum seekers whose refugee claims have yet to be processed as well as bona fide refugees, he said.
“My suspicion is that they’ll delay the flight long enough so that they can fast-track their determination process and they’ll be granted refugee status before the plane arrives,” Rintoul said. “The government is desperate to save political face and there are serious questions about the bona fides of what they’re involved in.”
The government had expected the first refugees to move to Cambodia by late last year, but the asylum seekers on Nauru have proved reluctant.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s office confirmed Monday that only genuine refugees would be resettled in Cambodia.
Of the 718 asylum seekers in Nauru from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, 485 had proven to be genuine refugees by the end of last month. Another 83 had their claims rejected and another 150 had yet to be assessed. – ABC news