2 Sep 2011

UNHCR won't join Australia's asylum seeker processing abroad

10:37 am on 2 September 2011

The United Nations refugee agency says it will not be involved if Australia restarts its policy of processing asylum seekers abroad.

Hundreds of asylum seekers originally bound for Malaysia are being held on Christmas Island as the government in Canberra awaits urgent legal advice on how to proceed after the High Court scuttled the asylum deal with Malaysia.

The Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she is considering all options, including reintroducing elements of the previous government's policy of processing asylum applicants in Papua New Guinea or Nauru.

But the UNHCR's regional representative Richard Towle says his organisation will not be involved in such a move.

He went on to say whatever policy approach is taken next by the government, it should be tested by the High Court.