17 May 2004

Australian decision to grant Afghans refugee status welcomed

9:15 pm on 17 May 2004

Refugee activists say the Australian Government's decision to so far grant 92 Afghan asylum seekers on Nauru refugee status is long overdue.

The Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone, announced the move recently, saying that the cases had been reviewed because of the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan.

Most of the detainees will settle in Australia and a further 90 cases are expected to succeed, leaving about 50 Iraqi asylum seekers on Nauru.

The co-founder of Rural Australians for Refugees, Dr Helen McCue, says the decision is proof that the Government's Pacific Solution hasn't worked.

"We're absolutely delighted that the government is finally recognising that the so-called 'Pacific Solution' is an absolute farce, and that these refugees have now been granted asylum under the convention and will be allowed to come to Australia. We've been lobbying and calling for the government to recognise their status as refugees for two and a half years."

Dr McCue says she believes the remaining Iraqui asylum seekers on Nauru should have their cases reconsidered also.