By Lauren Crothers
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AA) – An Iranian man who arrived in Cambodia last year as part of a group of refugees that took up a costly and controversial Australian resettlement offer has already left the Southeast Asian country after less than a year.
His departure, which was confirmed Friday by International Organization for Migration (IOM) spokesman Joe Lowry, means none of that original group remains in Cambodia, where they were transferred after being detained by Australia on the South Pacific island of Nauru.
Kerm Sarin, spokesman for Cambodia’s general department of immigration, said the refugee left “in April” of his own accord after deciding that he wanted to return to Iran.
The transfers were part of a $40-million deal inked between Cambodia and Australia in September 2014. An additional $15.5 million was then added to that to cover transport and logistics.
Upon their arrival in June last year, the four -- a Rohingya man from Myanmar, an Iranian couple and another Iranian male -- were swiftly taken to a villa in southern Phnom Penh where a team from the IOM began an integration program that included tours of the capital, language lessons and assistance with finding work.
The Rohingya was the first to leave, in late 2015, followed by the Iranian couple earlier this year.
The Iranian man, who did not respond to a request for comment Friday, has also since left. The IOM did not provide any further details.
A fifth Rohingya man who arrived separately from the first group is currently the only refugee related to the deal in Cambodia, but in May, it emerged that two more Rohingya refugees on Nauru volunteered to be transferred.
A Cambodian delegation is set to meet them on Nauru to prepare their paperwork.