11 Sep 2002

Rejected asylum seekers in Nauru offered help from Australia to return home

4:29 pm on 11 September 2002

The hundreds of asylum seekers on Nauru who have been rejected as refugees are being offered an assistance package from Australia if they return home voluntarily.

A total of 126 people have been recognised as refugees in this latest round while 463 people had their applications rejected following a review of an initial assessment.

Those asylum seekers must now return home.

Ellen Hanson from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Canberra says there are still some 200 people left on Nauru where decisions are pending but for the others this is the end of the appeal process.

"For those who've been rejected, the Australian government has offered a voluntary repartriation package which rejected asylum seekers may avail themselves of within 28 days of receiving a final decision. Now obviously we haven't come to the end of that process yet. In principle, those who no longer have a need for ongoing protection should return home when circunstances permit."

Ms Hanson is calling for an orderly and phased repatriation in a humane way.

The UNHCR is also calling for exteme caution in the repatriation of Iraqis because of their inability to monitor what's happening in the country.