PHNOM PENH, September 29, (Khmer Times) – Prime Minister Hun Sen has defended the deal to bring refugees detained by the Australian government to Cambodia, saying that the refugees will be given the choice to come to Cambodia or stay where they are.
Mr. Hun Sen reiterated that the refugee resettlement will be performed on a “voluntary basis” in a statement this morning.
In response to the criticism from NGOs, CSOs and others who claim that Cambodia is incapable of handling these refugees, he said, “The acceptance of refugees to live in Cambodia is based on voluntary principle, not by force.”
“We ask them [refugees] whether they want to live in Cambodia. If they do, we accept them. (…) It is an international obligation,” he said.
“If there are not enough [appropriate living] standards, they do not come, it’s their business,” he said, adding that the Australian government has determined that Cambodia is a suitable solution for the refugees.
Under the terms of the deal signed last Friday, Australia will be responsible for covering the cost of transferring the refugees to Cambodia, and will help to develop the infrastructure needed for them to live.
On the same morning, a press conference on the refugee agreement was held at the Ministry of the Interior.