May 22, 2014
The first asylum seekers to be granted refugee visas on Nauru have been released into the community.
Thirteen asylum seekers have been given refugee protection, including an Iranian family and four single men.
They have now been released from Australian immigration detention on the island and given five-year visas.
They will be given the option of settling in Cambodia if a resettlement deal between Australia and that country is signed as expected.
Seven people received negative assessments, including four people in two families and three single adult men. They remain, for now, in detention.
The Iranian family was met by Save the Children staff at the Anibare Lodge family accomodation, while the single men are being housed at a separate site.
Nauru’s government says refugees who resettle in the community are free to move around the island and seek employment.
The first refugee determinations come nearly two years after the former Labor government began sending asylum seekers who arrived by boat to the tiny Pacific island nation.
There are now more than 1,100 asylum seekers in the Australian-run detention centre on Nauru.
The Nauruan government says the refugees will be supported by a buddy system to help them integrate into island life.
It says they are settling into temporary accommodation and will soon move to more permanent and more suitably located housing.
The Nauruan government is expecting to deliver another 21 refugee determinations today.
Struggling Nauru can’t take in extra people: MP
Nauru opposition MP Mathew Batsua says it does not make sense for the struggling nation to be taking the refugees but the country would do its best to accommodate them.
“We’re a small country, we have many issues ourselves. We’re struggling with infrastructure issues, health issues, education issues, so to take on extra people doesn’t make sense for us. We think we’re too small and we haven’t changed our position at all,” he said.
“I think culturally, because we are obviously worlds apart in terms of what we use and the ways of life in the Pacific versus where they came from, religion-wise, I think Nauruans in general are very accommodating and hospitable people. We are willing to give people a chance if they are able to settle in.
He says the Nauruan government needs to be more forthcoming with information about how the resettlement will work.
“The government are behaving in ways that are detrimental to Nauru, ways that are detrimental to the representation of Nauru. They are being very secretive which is totally contrary to what we believe our role should be.
“We need to be open to show the international community we can do this well and we can do it in an open manner.”