2 Jun 2006

Fears over Afghan asylum seekers' possible route to Nauru

1:21 pm on 2 June 2006

Concerns are being expressed for the welfare of three Afghan asylum seekers held by Australia who may be sent to Nauru for detention.

The Age reports that refugee advocates fear the Afghans are being denied legal and community contact.

The Afghans being held by immigration officials in Queensland, include a nine-year old boy who recently spent time in a Brisbane hospital, where he was treated for a serious illness.

The family arrived by boat on the Torres Strait island of Saibai on May the 21st, telling locals they had come from Papua New Guinea.

They are unable to claim asylum in Australia because the Torres Strait Islands are excised from the Australian mainland under the Immigration Act.

Refugee advocate Dianne Hiles of the Children Out of Detention Group says the family should not be sent to Nauru.

She says they should not be locked up in a remote facility with poor conditions, and away from social contact.

The Immigration Department said it's considering returning the family to PNG, where they could apply for asylum in Australia.