Australia, Cambodia in refugee deal talks
Talks come week after Cambodia gov't says has 'no plans' to take any more of Australia's unwanted refugees

Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton continued talks with government and refugee resettlement officials in Phnom Penh on Thursday, a day after arriving in the city on an unannounced visit to check on the progress of a $55-million deal struck a year ago.

The deal between Cambodia and Australia relates to the resettlement of refugees detained by Australia on the South Pacific island of Nauru.

To date, only four have taken up the offer of a new life in Cambodia and it emerged last week that one of them, a Rohingya man, has asked to be sent back to Myanmar, where Rohingya Muslims have been subject to persecution - which some aid orgnazations have claimed is state sponsored - and even murder.

Dutton met with immigration chief Sok Phal on Thursday, as well as officials from the International Organization for Migration, which is assisting in the resettlement and providing training and language classes.

Describing the meeting as "productive,” the IOM said in a statement Thursday that it had "reiterated its commitment to serving the needs of the refugees through the continued provision of a robust suite of settlement services.”

It added: "Those services will continue to include language training, cultural orientation, health insurance, social support, housing and employment counseling. IOM is committed to working with the Government of Cambodia in its effort to put in place a comprehensive resettlement program.”

Earlier Thursday, Dutton’s office released a statement saying that talks held Wednesday with Prime Minister Hun Sen and Interior Minister Sar Kheng "reinforced the commitment of both nations to the successful implementation of the resettlement arrangements for refugees from Nauru.”

Dutton’s surprise visit comes two weeks after Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said there were "no plans” for Cambodia to take any more refugees.

Dutton’s statement Thursday said Hun Sen and Kheng "committed to facilitating further resettlement of refugees from Nauru who have expressed interest in moving to Cambodia and to measures to accelerate the integration of refugees into Cambodian society.”

Last Modified: 2015-09-11 09:12:46
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