Nauru: UNHCR welcomes Australian government decision, urges no detention

Briefing Notes, 14 October 2005

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 14 October 2005, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR welcomes the Australian Government's decision to bring most of the remaining asylum seekers on the Pacific Island of Nauru to Australia. Australia's Immigration Minister Senator Amanda Vanstone announced today, (Friday), that 25 of the 27 people remaining in the Offshore Processing Centre on Nauru would be brought to Australia including 13 people found to be refugees based on updated country information from UNHCR and other sources. The Minister said a further 12 people found not to be refugees would also be brought to Australia on a temporary basis to allow their long-term situation to be resolved. The Minister said some people will initially be based in detention.

Given the need to avoid further exacerbating reported mental health problems, UNHCR has urged the Australian Government to expedite any security clearance processes and to ensure that people being brought from Nauru will not need to be detained after arriving in Australia. While the asylum seekers have been well cared for in physical terms, UNHCR has been very concerned about the impact of their isolation and prolonged situation on their mental health.

The group coming to Australia (all men) includes 13 Iraqis, 8 Afghans, one Iranian, two Bangladeshis and one Pakistani. All the Afghans and five Iraqis have been recognised as refugees.