Nauru: UNHCR screening to begin Monday

Briefing Notes, 21 September 2001

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 21 September 2001, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR now has a fully operational office in Nauru and is expected to begin screening asylum seekers on Monday. Four UNHCR staff, including two refugee status determination specialists, arrived on the remote Pacific island on Thursday, bringing to six the number of UNHCR personnel in Nauru. Three more UNHCR screening experts accompanied by interpreters are scheduled to arrive on the island by next Wednesday. At the request of Nauru government, UNHCR agreed to screen the asylum seekers rescued by a Norwegian ship more three weeks ago and subsequently brought to Nauru on the Manoora, an Australian troop carrier, after Australia refused to allow them to disembark on its Christmas Island. UNHCR has also been asked by Nauru to screen an additional 230 people or so who were intercepted by the Australian navy on the high seas, transferred to the Manoora and also brought to Nauru. A decision on whether UNHCR will also screen this group will be made later today. The screening operation is expected to last several weeks.