11 Sep 2002

More than four hundred Afghan asylum seekers on Nauru denied refugee status

10:24 am on 11 September 2002

More than 400 asylum seekers on Nauru have had their applications for refugee status rejected.

The Australian government says 440 out of the 506 mostly Afghans assessed in this round were turned down, leaving only 66 who were accepted as genuine refugees.

The group was processed by both the Australian government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the UNHCR.

Australia sent them to Nauru last year before the Taliban government was toppled by a US-led military force.

An Immigration department spokesman says out of the 294 asylum seekers processed by Australia, 30 were found to be refugees while the UNHCR determined that 36 out of 212 were refugees.

He says people on Nauru have been provided with detailed information sessions covering the decision process, implications of the decisions and procedures for review of the initial refugee status assessment.

Anybody not deemed to be a refugee is expected to be returned to their country of origin as soon as circumstances permit.