Nauru to process remaining refugee claims

Nauru government will process remaining refugees claims and transit controversial detention centre to ‘open centre’

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Aerial view of the Nauru island where hundreds of asylum seekers are held in detention

The Nauru government on Sunday announced that the remaining 600 asylum seeking refugees' claims will be processed after declaring that the island's detention has officially ended on Monday. 

According to a statement issued by the Nauru government, claims will be processed “within the next week.”

Australia’s Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said she was skeptical over the Nauruan governments capacity to process the hundreds of claims within such a short time. 

Many asylum seekers have waited more than two years to have their claims determined. 

Young also urged Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to open Australia's doors to the asylum seekers and called for the government to "stop spending Australian taxpayers' money on this hellhole."

Meanwhile, Nauru’s government announced that it has effectively lifted the Australian funded immigration detention centres restrictions allowing for it to became an “open centre.” Prior to the announcement asylum seekers had a curfew from 6pm to 6am.

The move however was not welcomed by legal and refugee advocates.

“Letting people go for a walk does not resolve the fundamental problems caused by indefinitely warehousing them on a tiny remote island,” said Daniel Webb, the director of legal advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre.

“The men, women and children on Nauru need a real solution – settlement in a safe place where they can rebuild their lives...instead they’re being left languishing in an environment that is clearly unsafe for women and children,” Webb added.

The decision came days before the lawfulness of the Australian government's role in the Nauru detention centre will be investigated by a full bench of the High Court on Wednesday and Thursday, noted the Human Rights Law Centre's director of legal advocacy Daniel Webb.

On Monday’s announcement, the Australian government vowed to boost security on the island and work towards providing “suitable ongoing healthcare including overseas medical referral when required.”

The health and safety of asylum seekers in the Nauru detention center has been a much debated topic over the recent years.

The president of the Refugee Council, Phil Glendenning said that he was concerned about the safety of the asylum seekers if they remained on the island.

The Australian government had a “very serious responsibility to ensure their safety,” he added. 

Supporting the announcements Nauru's justice minister David Adeang said the Australian Government would provide support with "health safety, security and law enforcement."

Australia’s immigration Minister Peter Dutton also greeted the announcement with optimism and said that the claims had been "under consideration for some time."

Australian refugee law dictates that asylum seekers should usually be relocated to Nauru, Papua New Guinea or Cambodia or even be sent back to their countries of origin.

In early June, four refugees who had been held at the island’s detention centre arrived in Cambodia, after a $40 million deal was agreed with Australia to resettle the refugees there.

In 2012, Amnesty International visited Nauru and reported that the physical conditions there are harsh and repressive and that unlawful detention and inhumane conditions are creating a volatile situation among the detainees.


TRTWorld and agencies