6 Dec 2004

UNHCR asks Australia to give protection to Iraqis left on Nauru

8:05 pm on 6 December 2004

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

This follows the announcement last week by Australia that another 27 asylum seekers, including 10 children, will get 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 if the security situation in Iraq improves, they could then 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.