6 Sep 2003

UNHCR concerned about asylum seekers held by Australia in Nauru for two years

9:55 am on 6 September 2003

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says it is concerned about the future for asylum seekers on Nauru who have been refused refugee status.

More than three hundred and fifty asylum seekers remain incarcerated on Nauru, two hundred and thirty-two of whom have refused voluntary repatriation and not been resettled elsewhere.

The UNHCR regional representative, Michel Gabaudan, says all those off the Tampa and the Aceng who were recognised as refugees have been resettled.

He says this is pleasing, but he's worried about three people who are not refugees but cannot return to Iraq, and nine families of women and children.

"We have finally found a durable solution for all those whom we have recognized as refugees under our mandate so that's good news, we do have a concern with those who have been rejected because we do have problems to conceive their return in particular for the Iraq's and as they remain in detention we do think some alternative solution should be found until such a time as they can return"

Michel Gabaudan says the UNHCR has urged Afghanis not accepted as refugees to accept an Australian repatriation offer.