6 Dec 2004

UNHCR asks Australia to give protection visas to Iraqis on Nauru

2:30 pm on 6 December 2004

The United Nations has again called on the Australian government to provide complimentary protection visas for 14 remaining Iraqi asylum seekers still being held on Nauru.

This follows the announcement by Australia's immigration minister, Amanda Vanstone, that 27 asylum seekers, including 10 children, will be granted refugee status.

A spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Arianne Rummery, says the remaining 14 asylum seekers need protection from being forcibly returned to Iraq.

She says after a given period, the situation in Iraq can be reassessed as to whether security has improved, and they could be returned safely.

"This is an advice that UNHCR has had to all states since March 2003. It's not a new initiative at all. All we've done is recalled for it, given these recent announcements. So whether it happens or not is up to the Australian government if they make it available."

Arianne Rummery from the UNHCR in Australia.