ASYLUM SEEKERS ON NAURU HAVE NOW BEEN PROCESSED

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MELBOURNE, Australia (February 3, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Nauru President Rene Harris says he has been told by Australian officials that the applications for refugee status of the 1,200 asylum seekers detained on Nauru have now been fully processed.

However, their next destinations are not yet known.

As Radio Australia Kate Tozer reports, Nauru has been part of the Australian government’s so-called "Pacific Solution."

"President Rene Harris says he was notified during a visit to Melbourne yesterday, that the mainly Afghan and Iraqi asylum seekers would soon be leaving his island nation.

"We’ve been told officially now that the processing is now over. It’s a question of moving them now from ‘a’ to ‘b.’

"The President has had close contact with the island’s temporary residents, since the first load of boat people arrived in September."

"He says they are desperate to learn how their cases will be decided but, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), it’s not known whether the asylum seekers will be granted Australian visas, or be sent back to their home countries.

"Immigration Minister Phillip Ruddock was scheduled to visit Nauru on Sunday.

"Kate Tozer, Radio Australia, Melbourne."

 

NAURU FORESEES SWIFT END TO ROLE IN AUSTRALIA’S "PACIFIC SOLUTION"

MELBOURNE, Australia (February 1, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Nauru President Rene Harris says he is confident that 1,200 Afghan and other asylum seekers held on the island, as part of the Australian government’s "Pacific Solution," will soon leave.

Australia has refused entry to boat people and, instead, has been sending them to Nauru and Papua New Guinea for refugee status processing.

Radio Australia correspondent Kate Tozer reports that President Harris celebrated Nauru’s Independence Day at a function in Melbourne last night, where he revealed that his country’s part in the so-called "Pacific Solution," would soon end.

"Harris said, ‘I have been told today that they have all been processed. It’s now a question of finding a place for them now.’

"President Harris also said that he doesn’t know whether the mainly Afghan and Iraqi asylum seekers will be granted Australian visas, or be deported back to their home countries.

"He expects that announcement will be made when Philip Ruddock visits Nauru.

"‘The Minister for Immigration is going up there on Sunday, so I suppose by that time we will know exactly the total picture of who’s going and where,’ President Harris said.

"The United Nations High Commission for Refugees reported that it is not yet in a position to release specific details.

"Kate Tozer, Radio Australia, Melbourne."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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