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MELBOURNE, Australia (Oct. 31, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Australia's Department of Immigration says 21 refugees have been accepted from the processing center on Nauru because they have close family ties in Australia.

The group, including 11 children, were among hundreds fleeing Indonesia in August last year when their vessel sank off Australia's Christmas Island and was rescued by the Norwegian freighter Tampa. The 21 refugees have arrived in Brisbane and are expected to live with relatives in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.

An immigration department spokeswoman Janine Macfarlane says the 18 Iraqis and three Afghans have been granted secondary movement visas. "They're granted five years temporary protection in Australia, and maybe considered for permanent stay after four-and-a-half years if they have an ongoing protection need," Macfarlane said.

More than 900 asylum seekers remain at the offshore processing centers on Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island.

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

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