Australia reportedly transfers another Nauru detainee to Cambodia under $55m deal

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Christian Syrian refugee Ghassan Aleid displays his Syrian passport at a terminal at the Charles-de-Gaulle Airport in Roissy, France, October 2, 2015.
Christian Syrian refugee Ghassan Aleid displays his Syrian passport at a terminal at the Charles-de-Gaulle Airport in Roissy, France, October 2, 2015. Reuters/Stephane Mahe

A refugee has reportedly arrived in Cambodia from Nauru under the Turnbull government's $55 million agreement. A Syrian man was said to be the seventh person to resettle in one of Asia's poorest nations.

Aussie authorities allegedly transferred the man weeks ago. However, officials are tight-lipped over reports of the transfer.

Cambodian Interior Ministry's Refugee Department head Tan Sovichea said there were two refugees who agreed earlier this year to leave Australia's offshore detention centre in Nauru. The second man, however, later opted not to be transferred, Phnom Penh Post reports on Thursday. In 2014, Australia agreed to give millions to the Southeast Asian nation.

The deal teetered on collapse since Scott Morrison, who was then the Immigration Minister, signed it at a champagne-sipping ceremony in the same year. The agreement was widely condemned by the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, refugee and human rights advocates as well as Cambodian opposition parties.

Unconfirmed resettlement

An immigration department spokesman said that privacy of all refugees should be respected, leaving the transfer unconfirmed. "We have no intention of releasing personal or other details relating to those who volunteer to take up settlement in Cambodia," the spokesman told AAP.

He added that the governments of both countries are still committed to the deal allowing refugees in Nauru to be transferred to Cambodia. The spokesperson explained that the deal provides refugees the support they need to integrate into the Cambodian community and start new lives.

Life in Cambodia

Speaking exclusively to SBS Arabic 24, Abdullah, one of the refugees transferred to Cambodia, shared that he decided to leave the camp in Nauru after speaking with representatives of the Australian government. Abdullah said he negotiated with government representatives to give him a good amount of money and to reunite him with his family. According to the news outlet, he was the sixth refugee to arrive in the country under the $55 million deal.

When he arrived at Cambodia, Abdullah said he was given an apartment where he had to live all by himself, with nurses visiting him every day and three or four guides meeting him as well. He said he did not regret transferring from Nauru because the situation there was “tragic." He described the camp in Nauru as “very very harsh.”

He added that leaving the camp felt like being born again. "Here, I am free, I can go and see the people, see the place," he said.

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