4 Mar 2013

Nauru government scotches criticism it can't process asylum seekers

7:57 pm on 4 March 2013

The Nauru government has scotched criticism it is in disarray and incapable of processing asylum seekers waiting on the island to have their refugee status determined.

About four hundred asylum seekers are living in tents after being transferred from Australia under Canberra's offshore processing policy.

The first asylum seekers arrived nearly six months ago and many have gone on hunger strike, with some stitching their lips, in protest at the time it has taken to start processing their claims.

Nauru's Minister responsible for the Regional Processing Centre, Dominic Tabuna says the changes in cabinet have not affected the government's plan to start processing the transferees from the 20th of March.

"We have always identified this (date) because of local capacity and other capacity that we need to bring in and the process put in place, that it will take us up to around the middle of March to do that."

Dominic Tabuna says the asylum seekers were made aware of the government's timetable last year.