Migrants arrive at the Austrian-Hungarian border
Migrants arrive at the Austrian-Hungarian border station of Hegyeshalom, Hungary, September 5, 2015. Hundreds of exhausted migrants streamed into Austria on Saturday, reaching the border on buses provided by an overwhelmed Hungarian government that gave up trying to hold back crowds that had set out on foot for western Europe. Reuters/Laszlo Balogh

The Australian government as well as its Refugee Council is nudging both Cambodia and New Zealand to help in settling asylum seekers from Nauru, which is Australia's main refugee detention centre. The appeal to New Zealand was made even as Australia was making fresh efforts to placate Cambodia by urging it to take more people to salvage the rehabilitation deal.

New Zealand was approached by Paul Power, chief executive of the Refugee Council of Australia, according to media reports. At a meeting with MPs at the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, Power urged New Zealand to be more liberal with Nauru refugees and accommodate them.

Power is also the chair of the Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Working Group on refugees. He said Australia expects more help from New Zealand in re-settling refugees from centres such as Nauru New Zealand Herald reported.

“In relation to Nauru I think it's pretty obvious that Australia has got itself into a real mess. I don't know how Australia is going to extract itself from the situation," he noted.

According to him, 85 percent of those in Nauru are genuine refugees and Nauru did not have the capacity to re-settle them on a long term basis. He said the efforts to re-settle them in Cambodia are not proving successful. New Zealand can offer 150 places within its annual quota of 750 to take refugees from Australia's detention centres, he suggested. Power said Australia's capacity to influence the region suffered a setback because of its hard line on the matter and the inflammatory language by successive governments.

Cambodia agrees

Meanwhile, Australia has sorted out some issues it had with Cambodia after Immigration Minister Peter Dutton met Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen to salvage the AU$55 million agreement to resettle refugees from Nauru.

Days after declaring that it had no plans to resettle more than four refugees from Nairu, Cambodia is now saying it is ready to take more.

“Cambodia is ready to accept more refugees… we will send our officials, a team from the Ministry of Interior, to interview them,” senior Cambodian official Sri Thamrong told the Phnom Penh Post.

Agreement valid

Cambodia’s Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak also said the agreement with Australia is very much valid though “at the moment we want to see the first pilot refugees that have already arrived here integrate into our society before we accept newcomers.”

Refugee agency sources in Phnom Penh confirmed to Fairfax Media that many refugees have been unhappy at the restrictions on their movements in Cambodia despite promising training and work. Cambodia's opposition parties, human rights bodies and refugee advocacy groups have also criticised the government's agreement with Australia.

From Australia, considerable resources have been spent in convincing refugees in Nauru to move into Cambodia, portraying it as a developing country with more opportunities.

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