27 Sep 2014

Nauru refugees to be transferred to Cambodia

9:34 am on 27 September 2014

Cambodia's government has signed a deal with Australia to accept refugees housed in Canberra's detention centres on Nauru.

Australia's Immigration Minister Scott Morrison signed the deal on Friday with Cambodia's Interior Minister Sar Kheng.

Australia will pay US$35-million to the South East Asian nation over four years, and resettlement costs.

In a joint statement, the two countries said they had agreed on an initial trial arrangement with a small group of refugees, followed by further resettlement according to Cambodia's capacity.

Mr Morrison said only genuine refugees currently housed on Nauru would be sent.

He added transfers were likely to begin later this year and there was no cap on numbers.

Under the deal, only those who chose to go to Cambodia would be resettled.

The deal has drawn stringent criticism from rights groups, who say Cambodia is ill-equipped to care for the refugees.

The deal has sparked small protests in Sydney and Phnom Penh.

Australia has in recent months introduced controversial policies aimed at ending the flow of asylum boats from Indonesia trying to reach its territories.