14 Nov 2016

Nauru welcomes Australia's refugee deal with US

1:53 pm on 14 November 2016

The government of Nauru has welcomed the Australian announcement that it has a deal with the US to resettle the refugees who Canberra had sent to the island over the past three years.

People hold up placards at a protest outside an immigration office in Sydney on February 4, 2016.

Australia's government has said asylum seekers sent to Manus Island and Nauru after attempting to travel to Australia by boat would be permanently banned from the country. Photo: AFP

Australia has reached a resettlement deal with the United States for refugees being held on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island and Nauru.

About 900 men are in camp on Manus Island while about 400 people are in the camp on Nauru with roughly the same number living in the community.

The justice minister David Adeang said while the Nauru government had consistently sought to correct false reports about conditions and safety of the refugees, it had also always stated the need to find suitable third countries for permanent resettlement.

Nauru's Justice Minister David Adeang

Nauru's Justice Minister David Adeang Photo: Supplied

Mr Adeang said refugees need to know they have a pathway to rebuild their lives and he expects a positive response from them.

He also said some refugees have successfully adapted to life on Nauru and built successful businesses.

These people may wish to stay and they will have the option of 20-year visas said Mr Adeang.

Australia has ruled out accepting any of the people it transferred to Nauru and its Papua New Guinea detention centre.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said it will endorse the arrangement but Australia's approach to open-ended detention has caused immense harm to vulnerable people.

It said the full details are not yet known and the UNHCR is not a party to it.

The UNHCR said it remains gravely concerned about the fate of all vulnerable individuals in PNG and Nauru and its endorsement of these transfers doesn't alter Australia's obligation under international law.

Canberra is yet to say when the refugees might be moved and whether it entails a swap for refugees held in Central America.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs