NAURU’S REFUGEES HAVE IT BETTER THAN RESIDENTS

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NAURU’S REFUGEES HAVE IT BETTER THAN RESIDENTS

HONOLULU (Pacific Islands Report, Sept. 9) - Residents of impoverished Nauru are reportedly looking with some envy at the island’s much maligned refugee camps, where inmates eat better and live more comfortably than they do.

"The facilities that they provide in those centers are better than those we can provide for our own people and one thing is for certain, they eat better than us," Nauru Foreign Minister David Adeang told Radio Australia. "For a lot of us going by with one meal a day and I can tell you that one meal does not represent the five groups, the five food groups you should be getting in one day. They do. We don't."

The camps were set up by Australia on Nauru in late 2001 after a ship carrying 400 Afghan political refugees sank in the Indian Ocean. Australia’s "Pacific Solution" reportedly paid A$29 million (US$20.1 million) to the government of Nauru to house the asylum seekers.

Life for many on Nauru – once one of the world’s richest nations on a per capita basis because of lucrative phosphate mining - has been reduced to poverty in the wake of the country’s bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, Radio Australia reports that one of the two refugee camps on Nauru will be mothballed following the departure later today of 22 inmates who have been accepted by New Zealand.

The camp known as "Topside" will be closed and all 82 remaining asylum seekers will be housed in the camp known as "State House," RA reports.

New Zealand will offer a new life to 21 Afghanis and one Bangladeshi classified as refugees. More than half of those remaining on Nauru are Iraqis; Australia says it will reexamine their cases, RA reports.

September 9, 2004

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