Palau Asks U.S. To Help Find Uighurs Permanent Homes

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$600,000 for ‘temporary’ stay in Palau has run out

By Campbell Cooney

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, March 4, 2013) – Palau's Government is calling on the United States to boost efforts to find permanent homes for a group of Chinese Uighurs, relocated there from Guantanamo Bay.

Six Chinese Uighurs were moved to Palau in 2009, after spending seven years in the U.S.-run Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

The tiny island nation accepted the Uighurs on a temporary basis after the United States refused to send them back to China, which had described them as terrorism suspects.

President Tommy Remengesau says the $600,000 the Obama administration agreed to pay the previous Palauan Government to take care of the men has run out, and the relocation was always meant to be a temporary solution.

"The Uighurs are here with a commitment that it is going to be a temporary stay," he said.

"And I have indicated to U.S. officials that I would like to seek cooperation to make sure that we put a closure to this issue very soon."

The call comes after confirmation that one of the Uighurs, has already moved to Turkey to be with his wife, unbeknownst to many in Palau, including the president.

Local laws limiting job opportunities and the lack of a local Muslim community have reportedly left some of those relocated unable to properly settle down.

Mr. Remegesau says it's time to find a more permanent solution.

"I think it is best in the interests of the Uighurs that we all find a closure to this," he said.

"It's in the interests of Palau as a government, our resources are not really meant to be able to handle any long stay or long term stay.

"The Uighurs I understand also wish to be back to their families or they say Palau is beautiful but they're not exactly 100 percent comfortable here.

"The U.S. has said that they're doing the best to resolve the situation...and I think we need to just work together to make sure that there is a happy ending to this whole situation."

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