12 Jun 2002

Afghan asylum seekers on Nauru to be handed decisions tomorrow

4:48 am on 12 June 2002

A large group of Afghan asylum seekers detained on Nauru will find out today if their applications for refugee status have been accepted.

The UNHCR's Marissa Bandharangshi says 285 Afghans will be handed down first instance decisions today, which they can appeal.

Ms Bandharangshi could not comment on how many asylum seekers are expected to appeal if they are rejected.

"We'll have to see what happens once we actually hand down decisions and then see who would like to go through an appeal process and who would want to volunteer to go home to Afghanistan.But until we go through the process of handing down those decisions, it's a bit early to say."

Of the 292 Afghans on Nauru, seven were intially found to be refugees.

Ms Bandharangshi says the processing has taken a long time due to the changed circumstances in Afghanistan.

She also says that the UNHCR has applied to countries for refugees to be resettled on the basis of family ties but apart from New Zealand which has accepted a number, they're still waiting for a response.

To date, a total of 220 asylum seekers have been granted refugee status.