15 Jun 2002

Australian foreign minister assures Nauru's president about boat-people processing

9:27 am on 15 June 2002

Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, has told Nauru's President, Rene Harris, he is hopeful asylum seekers will soon leave the island

The two men have met in Adelaide to discuss Nauru's involvement in Australia's so-called Pacific solution.

The meeting follows an attack by Mr Harris last week in which he described Australia's decision to process asylum seekers offshore as a Pacific nightmare, saying Australia had not kept him informed of progress in the processing and had been slow delivering promised aid.

Yesterday however, Mr Harris said the nightmare was over.

He said Mr Downer had told him that the processing on Nauru would hopefully be completed by the end of this month and that Australia would be offering a financial package to help unaccepted asylumseekers return home

The day before the talks in Adelaide, the UNHCR revealed that almost 200 of 244 Afghan asylum seekers on Nauru did not meet the requirements of the 1951 Refugee Convention and would be expected to return to their country of origin.

He confirmed that his government would offer a financial package to return unsuccessful Afghani asylum seekers to Afghanistan.