12 Dec 2003

Asylum seekers on hunger strike in Nauru look to New Zealand for help

11:47 am on 12 December 2003

A refugee advocate in Australia says many Afghan asylum seekers on the Pacific Island of Nauru have turned their hopes to New Zealand.

Nine Afghanis in a detention centre on Nauru have sewn their lips together in a silent protest against their treatment, and others have begun a hunger strike.

Hassam Ghulam of the Hazara Ethnic Society says after two years, the asylum seekers have had enough of Nauru, but don't want to return to worse conditions in Afghanistan.

"We know that New Zealand has been very generous. It has been a very first-class country in relation to the treatment of refugees. They do wish very, very much to be in New zealand."

Hassam Ghulam of the Hazara Ethnic Society in Australia.

New Zealand has recently accepted three women and their daughters from Nauru after Australian authoritites refused to reunite them with family already in Australia.