Four refugees from Myanmar and Iran arrived in Phnom Penh on Thursday morning, nine months after a AU$40 million ($32 million) resettlement deal was signed between Australia and Cambodia.

Turned away from Australia and detained on the South Pacific island of Nauru instead, the four -- a Muslim Rohingya man, Iranian man and Iranian couple -- are the only people to have taken up the transfer offer since the agreement was forged in September.

At 10.06 a.m. (GMT0406) on a blisteringly hot day in the Cambodian capital, the Malaysian Airlines flight, MH754, touched down at Phnom Penh International Airport. 

Although they arrived on a commercial plane, the four were whisked away on an airport people carrier toward the VIP terminal, which is usually reserved for dignitaries, royalty and official ceremonies.

Two of the four -- a woman and a man -- wore black hooded sweatshirts as they made their way out of the terminal to a waiting van, in which the curtains were pulled shut.

In comments emailed out as the van made its way through a media scrum and out on its way to a secure villa where the refugees will spend their first few months in Cambodia, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division said they were being used as "guinea pigs".

Phil Robertson cited the recent deportation of dozens of Vietnamese Montagnards who had sought asylum in Cambodia as the country showing its "true colours".

"And even for 13 Montagnards that Cambodia has recognized as refugees, it refuses to grant them permanent asylum, and says they must be resettled to third countries or face forced return as well," he said.

"Cambodia clearly has no will or capacity to integrate refugees permanently into Cambodian society. These four refugees are essentially human guinea pigs in an Australian experiment that ignores that the fact that Cambodia has not integrated other refugees and has already sent Montagnards and Uighur asylum seekers back into harm’s way in Vietnam and China.”

Australia's then immigration minister Scott Morrison had told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the AU$40 million would go towards various "development aid projects", and would be in addition to the AU$79 million it already gives in aid to Cambodia.

In a joint Sept. 26 statement on signing the deal, Morrison said that Australia would pay for initial support to the refugees and pay for Cambodia to develop resources to integrate the new arrivals.

The Cambodian government is "making countless efforts to develop the country" and is "demonstrating its ability and willingness to contribute positively to this humanitarian issue", he added, referring to the housing of refugees.

Refugees initially appeared hesitant, but after a package -- outlined in a letter circulated in April by the Australian Immigration Department to both refugees and asylum seekers -- included a cash incentive, some have taken the plunge. 

The one-off package "to assist the resettlement process" contained cash in hand and in a bank account, accommodation, insurance and a wide range of services such as language tuition.

It talked of the advantages of life in Cambodia: "Cambodia is a safe country, where police maintain law and order."

"It does not have problems with stray dogs," it underlines.

The Guardian Australia reported Thursday that a new document has been circulating on Nauru, which describes Cambodia as a place where martial arts and “soccer” are popular.

"Cambodia has one of the fastest-growing economies in south-east Asia, based on tourism, manufacturing, agriculture and construction. You will have the right to apply for jobs and run a business, as do other migrants in Cambodia," Guardian Australia quoted the letter as also saying.

Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul told Anadolu Agency in April that he believes the cash in hand to be up to $10,000.

It emerged two weeks ago that a further AU$15.5 million was being tacked on to the cost of resettling the four.

Their transfer and resettlement will be carried out with assistance from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which said in a statement released Thursday that the new arrivals "will be encouraged and supported to integrate into the Cambodian community and become self-reliant as quickly as possible."

It added that while providing care and integration support, the organization will "uphold and respect the privacy, dignity and rights of the refugees."

"IOM will maintain confidentiality regarding the refugees’ personal information and situation, including the nature of services provided to a particular refugee, in order to provide protection to the refugees, as well as their families back home."

It said the refugees had requested privacy from the media as they settle into Cambodian life.

The South Pacific island of Nauru is the home of a detention center for immigrants -- many of them Muslim -- denied entry to Australia.

A Nov. 2012 Amnesty International report described the center as "a human rights catastrophe... a toxic mix of uncertainty, unlawful detention and inhumane conditions."

Anadolu Agency