100 ASYLUM SEEKERS ON MANUS ISLAND, PNG GIVEN REFUGEE STATUS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (April 10, 2002 – The National)---Refugee status has been granted to 100 asylum seekers on Manus Island but there are no guarantees that they will be allowed to settle in Australia.

They are mostly Iraqis, according to the Australian Immigration Department.

A total of 108 asylum seekers had their claims processed and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees handed down its decision on their refugee status on Monday.

Of that number, the UNHCR said that 100 could be determined as refugees. The remaining eight were determined not to be refugees.

It is understood that the processing of the remaining 248 asylum seekers' claims on Manus is well advanced and further decisions will be handed down as soon as they are made.

The asylum seekers are accommodated at the Lombrum Naval Base near Lorengau, the provincial capital.

On the question of resettlement, the Australian Immigration Department said on Monday it was important to note that being found a refugee did not give a person a right to select their preferred country of protection and that those in Manus may not necessarily be resettled in Australia.

The Australian Government, however, said there had been some indications from a number of countries prepared to take some refugees.

Australia has always said that it will accept its fair share of asylum seekers that are determined to be refugees.

It said that while settlement opportunities are being sought the Manus refugees will continue to be provided with support, including accommodation, food, clothing and medical care.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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