9 Oct 2002

410 asylum seekers in Australia's Nauru camp opt for repatriation

12:32 pm on 9 October 2002

More than 400 asylum seekers detained by Australia on Nauru have decided to return home voluntarily.

Australia says 410 detainees have accepted the federal government's repatriation package, comprising 398 Afghanis, six Iranians, three Sri Lankans and three Iraqis.

The AAP news agency quotes the Hazara Ethnic Society of Australia president Hassan Ghulam as saying more than 200 people had agreed to deportation over the last few days.

Their decision comes after an apparently healthy 25-year-old Afghani died in August and the return from Brisbane to Nauru last week of a 36-year-old detainee still suffering symptoms of deep vein thrombosis.

Mr Ghulam says many detainees are depressed and several are mentally ill.

He says there are people with huge skin problems, infections are not healing which means their immune system is not responding well while 10 people altogether have been hospitalised in Australia at different times for different reasons.

Australia says more than one-thousand people remain in its offshore detention centres on Nauru and in Papua New Guinea.