UN relief agency hails Australia's decision to bring back refugees sent to Nauru

14 October 2005

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today welcomed the Canberra Government's decision to bring most of the remaining asylum seekers from the Pacific Island of Nauru to Australia.

All but two of the 27 individuals concerned will go to Australia, and 13 of them will be granted asylum, according to UNHCR. The remaining dozen will be brought to Australia, where some will initially be "based in detention" while their long-term disposition is settled," agency spokesman Ron Redmond said in Geneva.

"Given the need to avoid further exacerbating reported mental health problems, UNHCR has urged the Australian Government to expedite any security clearance processes and to ensure that people being brought from Nauru will not need to be detained after arriving in Australia," he said.

Although the asylum seekers were not treated badly on Nauru, they endured prolonged isolation at the Offshore Processing Centre there, and another long-term detention could further exacerbate their reported mental health problems.

Of the 13 men who have been granted asylum, eight are Afghans, and five are Iraqis. Among those who were not approved were eight Iraqis, two Bangladeshi, one Iranian and one Pakistani.

Many refugees arrived to Australia by boat in 1999, and overwhelmed by the upsurge in people seeking asylum, the Australian Government sent some of them to Nauru or Papua New Guinea's Manus Island.


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