Former Nauru Detainee Says Australia Abandoned His Family in Cambodia

The Australian Government is refusing to honour promises made to a Syrian refugee who resettled in Cambodia, leaving his four children without education or health insurance.

Key points:

  • Abdullah Zalghani is one of three refugees who permanently resettled in Cambodia as part of Australia’s refugee deal
  • He says documents prove Australia promised to pay for his children’s education and healthcare costs
  • Australia’s Department of Home Affairs says refugees in Cambodia were provided with comprehensive support

Three years ago, Abdullah Zalghani agreed to move from Nauru to Cambodia, as part of the Australia Government’s $55 million deal with the South-East Asian nation.

Part of that agreement, according to documents obtained by the ABC, was that “school-aged children will be enrolled in local private schools in Phnom Penh … for up to four years after arrival”.

Mr Zalghani’s two sons and two daughters finally arrived in Phnom Penh in December, but when he tried to have them enrolled he was told Australia would not honour its promise.

The International Organisation for Migration, which was given $15.5 million by Australia to provide services to the refugees, broke the news to Mr Zalghani.

“They toldme the program between IOM and the Government of Australia [is] finished,” Mr Zalghani told the ABC.

The refugee resettlement agreement between Australia and Cambodia signed by then-immigration minister Scott Morrison in 2014, expired in September.

Australia’s Department of Home Affairs said it would not comment on an individual case.

“Persons settled in Cambodia have each been provided comprehensive support, including financial support, health care, housing, family reunification and education,” said a spokesperson for the department.

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