12 Jan 2004

Australian officials to visit Nauru over refugee problem

6:28 am on 12 January 2004

Australian government doctors and officials will land in Nauru today as an independent medical team gets closer to making their own inspection of the island.

They will review the situation on Nauru where Australia has kept hundreds of asylum seekers since 2001.

A recent hunger strike by dozens of the detainees stretched the island's hospital and caused controversy between the two countries over who was responsible for their care.

Nauru has sought an independent group of Australian doctors who hope to hire a plane later this week after the federal government refused to fund their trip.

The doctors also want Australian assurances that they won't be barred from entering Nauru.

But the foreign minister, Alexander Downer, has said it has never influenced Nauru in its visa process.