13 Sep 2007

Concerns over uncertainty of settlement for Sri Lankan refugees on Nauru

10:24 am on 13 September 2007

An Australian refugee advocate, Susan Metcalf, has welcomed Canberra's decision to grant refugee status to 72 Sri Lankans held on Nauru.

The Sri Lankans are among 83 asylum-seekers intercepted en route to Australia in February

The Sri Lankan Government has branded the group "economic refugees" and demanded Australia return them to their war-torn homeland.

The Australian Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews says only one had been refused refugee status.

He says Australia is now exploring resettlement options in other countries for the Sri Lankans accepted as refugees who will remain in Nauru while arrangements are made to resettle them elsewhere.

Ms Metcalf says she is concerned about the uncertainty of where they will be resettled.

"We're back in the same situation of uncertainty now with those people who have been assessed to be refugees. Unless they get a very clear message about where they will be resettled, we could see them back in the same situation of feeling the need to resort to drastic measures if they are just sitting there in the dark and months go by without any resettlement options."

Australian refugee advocate, Susan Metcalf

Australia's Greens spokesperson for Immigration, Senator Kerry Nettle says the government's refusal to settle the refugees in Australia is a disgrace.

Senator Nettle says that Australia should accept its international obligations and that asylum seekers must be able to live in Australia if they are found to be refugees