Where is the money going? Australia has struck a deal with Cambodia to take four refugees who has previously been detained on Nauru, with the Australian government forking out $40 million on resettlement costs. But a tipster tells us that at a panel on refugees in Phnom Penh on Friday night, a representative from the Cambodian government admitted he had no idea what the money was being spent on. At least part of it is being spent on putting up the refugees — an ethnic Rohingya man, two Iranian men and an Iranian woman — in high style, as they are reportedly living in luxury accommodation in Cambodia’s ramshackle capital. They have been kept away from the public, leading to one person on the panel to describe them as “snobs”.
The Abbott government has held up Cambodia’s signature of the UN Refugee Convention as a key reason it is a “safe” place to outsource refugees, but the Cambodian government has come in for a welter of criticism for breaching that very agreement. A new report by Human Rights Watch recommends that Cambodia:
- Abide by the international legal prohibition on returning refugees and asylum seekers to a place where their lives or freedom would be threatened — the principle of nonrefoulement — to which Cambodia is bound as a party to the Refugee Convention;
- Ensure all Montagnards and other asylum seekers from Vietnam have the opportunity to lodge refugee claims and receive a fair determination of their claims for protection; and
- Invite the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to assist in the registration of asylum seekers, the determination of claims for refugee status, the reception and care of asylum seekers and refugees, and the promotion and facilitation of durable solutions on their behalf, including third-country resettlement.