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Australia reconsiders off-shore processing of refugees

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Dec. 27, 2011) – Nauru’s president, Sprent Dabwido, says his government remains open to talking with Canberra if it wants the asylum seeker detention camps re-opened.

This comes after last week the Julia Gillard government indicated it could agree to the use of Nauru, in a trade off with the opposition over the use of Malaysia as a processing center.

[PIR editor’s note: Nauru’s immigration center has been criticized for being inadequate and defunct, with infrastructure failing to meet standards in order to house the hundreds of asylum seekers estimated by the Australian government. Opposition government leader Tony Abbot has wanted to re-open the immigration and detention center on Nauru since its closing in 2007 as Australia’s "Pacific Solution" to hundreds of asylum-seeking people. The facility gained heavy criticism for lax practices and allowing applications for immigration to sit in limbo for years while applicants waited on Nauru.]

Don Wiseman reports:

"Nauru was controversially used for more than six years from 2001 to process hundreds of asylum seekers wanting to enter Australia. The then-Howard government had wanted their applications for refugee status to be processed outside of mainland Australia. The vast majority who were housed on Nauru were eventually found to be genuine refugees. President Dabwido says he’s had contact with the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Richard Marles, who notified him of Canberra’s new position on the possible use of the Nauru camps. He says any change in status would impact on the current users of the facilities. Mr. Dabwido says one of the camps, Topside, is now the headquarters for the Nauru Rehabilitation Corporation’s efforts to restore the land wrecked by phosphate mining. The second, at Stateside, now houses a primary school. He says if they were to be re-opened it would pose some challenges, but he says these can be easily resolved."

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