12 Sep 2002

UNHCR calls for humane repatriation of asylum seekers on Nauru

10:49 am on 12 September 2002

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is calling for an orderly and phased return home of asylum seekers on Nauru who have been rejected as refugees.

A total of 126 people have been recognised as refugees in this latest round while 463 others had their applications for refugee status rejected following a review of an initial assessment.

Those asylum seekers must now return home.

Ellen Hanson from the UNHCR in Canberra says there are still some 200 people left on Nauru where decisions are pending but for the others this is the end of the appeal process.

Ms Hanson says repatriation will occur when circumstances permit.

"It's very much a process of consultation between governments and ourselves, and we have asked that any return to Afghanistan by Afghans without protection there should be phased, coordinated, orderly and humane."

Ms Hanson says Australia is offering an assistance package for those people who agree to return home voluntarily within 28 days.

The UNHCR is also calling for exteme caution in the repatriation of Iraqis because of their inability to monitor what's happening in the country.