4 Sep 2007

Australian government told to communicate better with Sri Lankan hunger strikers on Nauru

6:59 pm on 4 September 2007

A refugee advocate says there is no reason why Sri Lankan asylum seekers on Nauru cannot be told when their applications for asylum will be heard.

More than 50 Sri Lankans detained in the Australian-run camp on Nauru have been on a hunger strike for four days over the lack of progress on their claims since arriving on the island six months ago.

Australian-based advocate Susan Metcalfe, who is in regular contact with the Sri Lankans, says they have been driven to the hunger strike by a sense of hopelessness.

She says she is trying to persuade the asylum seekers to choose another way of making their point, but she is also calling on the Australian Immigration Department to communicate better.

"I would hope that they could be given some kind of time frame for when decisions will be given. If it is possible to do that in Australia if people are processed here, then there is no reason why they can't have a time frame in Nauru as well. There is no difference - they same people are making decisions on Nauru as would make decisions on cases in Australia, so there should be no reason why they cannot have a time frame."