1 Apr 2003

Australia offers repatriation to Iraq to 95 Iraqi detainees held on Nauru

10:27 am on 1 April 2003

Australia says it has offered voluntary repatriation to Iraq to 95 Iraqis who it is holding in its detention centre on Nauru after rejecting their application for refugee status.

The Australian Immigration Department says another 11 Iraqis, who Australia classified as refugees, will be resettled when the UNHCR can find resettlement countries.

The offers come as the Australian military is fighting a US-led war in Iraq to topple its government and remove weapons of mass destruction.

For about 18 months, Australia has been holding a total 455 asylum seekers on Nauru.

A department spokesperson says those who turn down voluntary repatriation will remain on Nauru under the supervision of the International Organisation of Migration.

The IOM is currently investigating options for those who will not voluntarily return to Iraq.

Meanwhile, 7 asylum seekers remain at the Australian detention centre on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.