Cambodia has signed a deal with Australia to take refugees rejected by Canberra in exchange for money.
The accord was sealed in Phnom Penh by Australia’s Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Cambodia’s Interior Minister Sar Kheng.
Canberra will give Cambodia an additional 27 million euros worth of aid over four years as well as pay resettlement costs.
Human rights and aid groups have called the accord “shameful”, saying the southeast Asian country is an impoverished nation with a terrible record on protecting refugees.
Australia’s conservative government came to power promising to “stop the boats” carrying migrants, mostly from Indonesia.
It now says the accord will enable it to fulfil its policy whereby no-one will be resettled in Australia.
According to the government only volunteers who are genuine refugees currently being held at a processing centre on the Pacific island of Nauru will be sent to Cambodia.
The deal sparked a small but boisterous protest outside the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh.
Demonstrators questioned the deal’s transparency, and asked why a rich country was passing on such a burden to a poor one.
Both countries say they have agreed on a trial arrangement with a small number of refugees.