Nauru Commits To Assisting Australia With Asylum Seekers

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Reopening of Nauru camps hoped to alleviate current difficulties

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Aug. 14, 2012) – Nauru’s President, Sprent Dabwido, says his country has committed to allowing the Australian government to re-open its detention camp for asylum seekers.

This follows a conversation this morning between the president and the Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard.

The formal approach to Nauru came after the release on Monday of the report from the Expert Panel on Asylum Seekers.

That report included Nauru as part of the recommendations aimed at alleviating Australia’s asylum seeker issue.

President Dabwido says, like everybody else in the region, Nauruans have been following the people-smuggling and asylum seeker processing issues and are aware this is a difficult issue for Australia.

He says the next step depends on the outcome of legislation the Australian government hopes to get through parliament this week.

[PIR editor’s note: Foreign Minister Dr. Kieren Keke adds that Nauru "can provide an excellent facility and a great environment" for detainees, despite "psychological stress" due to the process of detention and the uncertainties relating to processing. Nauru may re-open one of its two camps within a month’s time.]

Canberra launched its policy of processing asylum seekers abroad in 2001 and has since run centers in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

At the start of the year, Mr. Abbott called for the resumption of off-shore processing and dismissed the government’s cost estimate of two billion U.S. dollars to restart the Nauru center.

At the time, the opposition’s immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said the government had gone for a hyped-up, electrified Alcatraz alternative.

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