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12/03/2003: Nauru Nauru

Here is an article from GoAsia Pacific called "Asylum seekers returned to Iraq and Afghanistan."

Talk about a diplomatic debacle. It's not as if there are millions of refugees on Nauru, only a few hundred, and Australia can't find it in their descended from criminals hearts to do anything more for these people than stick them out of sight in the middle of nowhere? Despicable.

NAURU: Asylum seekers returned to Iraq and Afghanistan
01/12/2003 17:08:54 | Pacific Beat Stories

A group of twenty asylum seekers were flown out of Nauru this morning ending two years of detention under Australia's "Pacific Solution." But there are still over 280 people on Nauru who have refused to return to their country of origin, and a new coalition has been formed in Australia to lobby for alternatives for resettlement. The National Council of Churches, Trade Unions, OXFAM and other community groups want the Australian government to implement recommendations from a recent Senate report on Australia's relations with the Pacific.

GLENN: We issued the briefing paper to try and remind the Australian public that the Tampa episode continues on with people who have just been neglected and are being held in poor conditions - hoping that the conditions will make them request to go back to danger in Afghanistan.
MACLELLAN: But do you support the principle of voluntary repatriation from Nauru if people do want to go home either to Iraq or Afghanistan?
GLENN: The government's own statistics, the Australian government statistics show these people would have got refugee status if they'd been processed in Australia, so they are people who are in danger but the processing environment was different in Nauru and so many of them have failed.
We understand that there's 23, maybe 30, who are willing to go back and try their luck in Afghanistan, but that will leave 250 - 280 who absolutely are convinced that their life is in danger if they return to Afghanistan or Iraq, or there's odds and ends from other countries.
We're more concerned about those who will remain and the need to find some sort of circuit breaker for them but we do wish that there was some international monitoring of those who are returning in a so-called voluntary way.
MACLELLAN: How many of the asylum seekers currently on Nauru are children?
GLENN: As far as we can see there's 90 children, so it's almost a third are children. Several of them are not accompanied by parents. Clearly they would have been refugees if they'd been processed in Australia and they've spent formative years growing up in inadequate facilities, so we're most concerned about them.
Some of them in fact have husbands or fathers of family units are in Australia with refugee status but they arrived on seperate boats so there's an issue of family reunion as well.
MACLELLAN: The Australian government however has said that the only option for them is to return to the country from which they originally came.
GLENN: Luckily the international community has not taken the same view and there has been some resettlement opportunities provided by New Zealand and by Canada and by Norway.
We have said to the international community after our national summit last week that we have to accept that we've failed to bring more compassion and more realism to the Australian government, and that we do really need international support to resettle these people.
The International Organisation for Migration who is running the camps on behalf of the Australian and Nauruan governments will not engage in involuntary returns, so there is no option for these people rather than to stay long-term on Nauru for 250 - 280 people who have nowhere else to go.
We believe that Australia could resettle them or they could be resettled internationally given that they all would have been refugees if their processing regime had been different.
But we will be keeping pressure on the Australian government to ensure that there is some better solution for them rather than just keeping them in what is becoming fast Australia's own Guatanamo Bay.