UN AGENCY CALLS FOR END TO NAURU HUNGER STRIKE

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MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Jan. 5) - The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has renewed its call for hunger strikers on Nauru to end their protest.

The UNHCR says a review of the refugee status of a number of the detainees is well underway.

The UNHCR is reassessing a number of Afghan claims after growing concern about the safety in certain regions of Afghanistan.

The Nauru hunger strike began 27 days ago and 35 men are still taking part.

UNHCR's regional representative Michael Gabaudan says some of the Nauru detainees are likely to be granted refugee status.

"We will indeed have some people that will be recognized," he said. "We will have some people for whom we think return is not appropriate."

Mr Gabaudan wants the hunger strike to end.

"We think that right now people should stop their strike," he said. "They've been heard and prolonging their suffering will not change anything to the process that we have begun."

He says the entire reassessment process will take up to a month.

Mr Gabaudan says once the UNHCR has finished its reassessment of 22 Afghan claims the Federal Government will do likewise for almost 200 others.

"I'm confident the government will undertake the process once they have our consolidated information," he said.

January 6, 2004

Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra

 

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