10 May 2002

Australia says Nauru refugee deal has no time limit

3:11 pm on 10 May 2002

Australian officials say there is no need to renegotiate the arrangement with Nauru to accommodate boatpeople sent by Australia.

This contradicts consistent claims by the Nauru government that the arrangement was to end in mid-May.

The Nauru government said all the boatpeople and refugees would have to be off the island by the agreed deadline irrespective of whether the processing was complete.

But foreign affairs officials in Canberra say the Nauru government signed a deal which allows Australia to have up to 12-hundred asylumseekers in Nauru at any one time.

They say while the applicants are meant to be processed within 6 months of their arrival, the arrangement allows Australia to keep them for how long processing reasonably takes.

Nearly a thousand Middle Eastern boatpeople are still on Nauru to have their claims processed.

It has been impossible to get clarification from Nauru about its claims regarding the agreement.