10 Dec 2007

Australia grants refugee status to Burmese held in Nauru

2:41 pm on 10 December 2007

Australia's new Labor government has granted refugees status to seven Burmese men who have been held on Nauru since August last year.

The Australian immigration minister, Chris Evans, says it is the first step in dismantling the previous government's practice of housing aslyum seekers on Nauru and Manus Islands in Papua New Guinea.

72 of a group of 80 Sri Lankans on Nauru have already been granted refugee status, though they have yet to find a country willing to give them sanctuary.

Senator Evans says the Labor government is hoping to settle these cases as quickly as possible.

"A task force of officials from the immigration department and ASIO left last night for Nauru. They'll be seeking to process the remaining people on Nauru as quickly as possible in accordance with the Migration Act."

Australia's immigration minister, Chris Evans