CANBERRA, Australia – Refugees rejected by Australia will soon fly from the Pacific atoll of Nauru to be resettled in Cambodia, the Australian government said Thursday.
Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported that a charter flight on Monday will fly the first refugees to be resettled in Phnom Penh under a bilateral agreement signed by Cambodia and Australia last September.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's office did not specify when the first group will fly.
"The first group of volunteers is anticipated to depart for Cambodia in the near future," Dutton's office said in a statement.
The specific nationalities of the people to be sent to Cambodia were not released. Refugees from many countries, including Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Sri Lanka, have tried to reach Australia in recent years.
The agreement specifies that all refugees who leave the Australia-run detention camp on Nauru must be volunteers.
The deal with Cambodia will cost the Australian government more than 10 million Australian dollars ($7.6 million) a year and has been condemned by human rights groups.
ABC reports that a fact sheet distributed among refugees at Nauru promises a one-off package for the first who agree to be resettled.
They were offered "cash in hand and in a bank account," ABC reported.
The package includes help finding work, and access to education, language training and health insurance, ABC said.
Dutton's office declined to provide AP with a copy of the fact sheet.
Australia refuses to resettle refugees who attempt to reach its shores by boat. It pays Nauru to house asylum seekers and has a similar deal with Papua New Guinea.
More than 200 of the 1,200 asylum seekers on Nauru, mostly from South Asia and the Middle East, had been assessed to be genuine refugees.