30 Mar 2005

Nauru rejects concerns about asylum seekers' plight

7:38 pm on 30 March 2005

The Nauru Government is rejecting suggestions that the final 54 asylum seekers still on Nauru are suffering from lives of unbearable hardship.

Those still being held by Australia in its Offshore Processing Centre on Nauru under the so-called Pacific Solution have failed in several attempts at achieving refugee status.

Australia says they are failed asylum seekers, not detainees, who can return home or go to any other country where they have the right of entry.

The Age newspaper quotes a migration agent for some as saying they suffer from psychological problems, including depression, despair and extreme anxiety.

But Nauru's justice and finance minister, David Adeang, says the asylum seekers move around freely.

"They are going to the same school as my children, but they have other facilities at the centres that make sure that their facilities in the end are better than they are for our children. They're better treated medically than our own people, and they're getting three regular, good meals a day, our people aren't."

David Adeang says he's opened the centre from 8am to 7pm and is looking at ways to further extend the asylum seekers' chances for a meaningful life on the island.

He says many have converted to Christianity.

And he says Nauru 's sympathetic to the asylum seekers' wishes to be free to leave to start new lives elsewhere, but there's nothing Nauru can do to assist that.