By Charlotte Mutoro
Asylum seekers from Manus Island who are not granted a refugee visa to stay at the equivalent of a ‘three star hotel facility’ on Nauru may now end up in Cambodia.
Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison met Cambodia’s Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Thursday for talks that concentrated on “regional cooperation to deal with asylum seeker movement”, according to a Morrison spokesman.
“We’ve got a positive response (from Cambodia),” Mr Morrison told Sky News on Thursday.
The process of determining refugee status is underway on Nauru with 20 refugee visas already issued.
The 5-year visas’ allow the refugees to live and work in the community with accommodation provided in Lorengau, a town to the west of the detention centre. Travel abroad is permitted with re-entry back into PNG, but access to Australia is barred.
Refugees settling on the island will be housed, in the short-term, in prefabricated units fitted with air-conditioning, mesh fences and a 24-hour security watch. PNG MP Ron Knight, who represents Manus Island, likened the accommodation to a three star hotel.
“Many of those being resettled on Nauru have skills, capability – things that Nauruans would welcome in their community,” Mr Morrison said.
Asylum seekers who are declined refugee status in Nauru could now be bound for Cambodia.
“No one in their right mind believes that Minister Morrison is doing anything beyond wiping Australia’s hands of our international responsibilities,” Australian Green’s senator Sarah Hanson-Young said on ABC Radio.
The Abbott Government is just “looking for the next poor country to dump” refugees, she said.