14 Oct 2005

Australia to accept most Nauru detainees

3:16 pm on 14 October 2005

Australia has decided to take in all but two of the remaining asylum seekers who have been detained on Nauru for four years.

The immigration minister, Amanda Vanstone, announced 25 of the 27 people being held on Nauru will be flown to Australia with 13 of them granted refugee status and the other 12 allowed in on a temporary basis with "transition visas".

The Canberra-based lawyer for many of the asylum seekers, Marion Le, has welcomed the announcement, calling it an end to the failed policy of running offshore detention centres.

She says with ongoing assessments of the situation, Australia has realised that holding the people on Nauru is futile.

"It's costing Australia an inordinate amount of money to keep them there and logistically it's a nightmare for people who want to go to process them or do anything in relation to their cases. Nauru is grinding down to almost not being able to operate at all. There's a lot of tensions there and without wanting them to escalate, the Australian government's decided they need to bring it to an end."

Marion Le says Australia will continue to help in keeping the remaining two asylum seekers on Nauru until any new information arises.