3 May 2006

Repatriation of workers from Nauru held up by call for proper integration plan

4:40 pm on 3 May 2006

The International Organisation for Migration says New Zealand and Australia want guarantees that the I-Kiribati and Tuvaluans to be repatriated from Nauru will be properly re-integrated into their former communities.

Hundreds of workers and their families have been stranded on Nauru for years and had refused to leave until they received millions in outstanding wages from the Nauru government's phosphate company.

Taiwan, through its aid programme, is meeting those costs, while the IOM has been looking for donor support for a ship to carry the workers and their belongings home.

The IOM's chief of mission in Canberra, Denis Nihill, says Australia and New Zealand are considering this but want to talk with Kiribati and Tuvalu about what this means.

"It is encouraging that that interest has now come forth, but both governments, the Australia and New Zealand governments that is, are keen to make sure that there is a proper re-integration scheme in place for the people when they return. It's slowed things up but in the long run it will make it a better and more sustainable repatriation."

Denis Nyhill