16 Dec 2002

Afghan asylum seekers arrive in Kabul from Nauru

7:11 am on 16 December 2002

A group of Afghan former asylum-seekers has arrived in Kabul from the Pacific island of Nauru.

Many were among 433 asylum-seekers rescued from a sinking Indonesian boat by the Norwegian cargo vessel, Tampa, in August 2001 -- an incident which prompted Australia to impose controversial new measures against migrants.

The Australian Associated Press says some 119 people, several carrying posters condemning Australia, flew in on a jet chartered by the International Organisation for Migration and paid for by Canberra.

Najibullah, who left Afghanistan fearing the former Taliban regime, said he was kept in prison like conditions during his one and a half years in Nauru.

19 year old Najibullah said he and others were forced to return to Afghanistan because of the appalling conditions on Nauru, which he said included a lack of food and water.

Cy Winter, the IOM chief of mission at Nauru, said conditions on the island were "as good as any other camp I have worked in" but admitted there were problems with water supply

More than 400 Afghan asylum seekers remain on Nauru --only 87 have been accepted as genuine refugees who will be granted asylum in Australia.