30 Jun 2004

Nauru detainees distressed at uncertainty

2:51 pm on 30 June 2004

An advocate for detainees on Nauru says a group believed to be bound for New Zealand are in tears over the continued uncertainty surrounding them.

The group comprises 21 Afghan detainees who are the last of the boatpeople rescued by the Norwegian freighter Tampa in 2001 and then detained on Nauru.

Elaine Smith, an Australian-based advocate for the detainees, says she spoke with them by phone last night and some were in tears.

Mrs Smith says New Zealand Immigration Service officials in Nauru interviewing the group have not been able to say when they may arrive in New Zealand.

"They were told that they wouldn't be able to come to New Zealand till September, and what they [immigration officials] said also was that if some more deserving cases of refugees presented themselves in the meantime they could be further delayed. They had hoped that they would be able to start a new life well before that -- they've been waiting three years now and every day's like a month for them."

Elaine Smith.