3 Mar 2005

Australia has no comment on UNHCR call for last Nauru refugees to be given complementary protection

8:49 pm on 3 March 2005

Australia's Department of Immigration says 54 asylum seekers still detained at its Offshore Processing Centre on Nauru are being urged to return home voluntarily.

The department, known as Dimia, has confirmed that there are 29 Afghans, 20 Iraqis, 2 Iranians, 2 from Bangladesh and 1 person from Pakistan.

A website address for Nauru asylum seekers says seven of the 29 Afghanis are children.

A Dimia spokesman, Andrew Gavin, says the asylum seekers have not been granted refugee status.

"They've been found by assessment and review to not be refugees and now their option is to return home or to a country where they have a right of entry, and these people have been urged to return home voluntarily."

Mr Gavin could not say whether any of the detainees could be offered complementary protection, as requested by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

He was also unable to say whether any sort of amnesty is possible.