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Monday, 10 September, 2001, 10:23 GMT 11:23 UK
Nauru accepts 200 more migrants
Nauru resident Hunt Kan in front of Nauru Anaoe Village
Nauru Anaoe Village awaits more than 500 refugees
By Damian Grammaticas in Nauru

The Pacific Ocean island of Nauru has agreed to provide temporary shelter to over 200 more people after another boat filled with asylum seekers was intercepted off Australia's north-west coast at the weekend.

That brings the total now heading to Nauru, where they will have their asylum claims processed, to more than 500.


Agreeing to house the asylum seekers was a simple decision to help an old friend.

Nauru president Rene Harris
The Australian Government said it had reached an understanding to provide aid to the island in return for it accepting the boat people.

They are now on an Australian naval troop ship, sailing for Papua New Guinea, from where they will be flown to their final destinations.

At least half the group are from Afghanistan.

Inhospitable

Nauru hardly provides the new life they were looking for.

(Click here to see map)

The island lies just below the equator and more than 1,500 kilometres north-east of Australia.

It is a tiny and dilapidated pinprick in the central Pacific.

Nauru is the world's smallest republic with 12,000 people living on 21 square kilometres.

Mining for phosphate used in fertilizer sustained Nauru for almost a century but the deposits are running out, the processing plants lie rusting and under-used.

Australian defence minister Peter Reith in Nauru Anaoe Village
Peter Reith promises money and supplies
The open-cast mines have shredded much of Nauru's landscape, leaving it barren and sweltering.

Nauru's President, Rene Harris, said agreeing to house the asylum seekers was a simple decision to help an old friend.

Australia asked for assistance and Nauru agreed, he said.

Australian aid

But there are inducements.

Australia's Defence Minister, Peter Reith, who is on Nauru, said his government will run the operation and pay all the bills.

Australia will also provide about $10 million worth of new generators and fuel so the island can have proper power supplies.

It will give new educational and sporting scholarships so up to six Nauruan students can study in Australia and, Mr Reith said, $500,000 worth of unpaid bills at Australian hospitals which have treated Nauruans will be picked up by his government.

The unpaid bills have meant that the Australian hospitals have not been treating more Nauruans and the islanders will now have better access to medical care in Australia.

(click here to return)
 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Dominic Hughes
"It has been restocked with food and fuel"
Ruud Lubbers, UN High Commissioner for Refugees
"Refugees flee the country because they are scared"
Paddy McGuinness of the Sydney Morning Herald
says Australia is simply distinguishing between genuine refugees and others
See also:

03 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Nauru
03 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Nauru
09 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia talks tough on migrants
03 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia ships out Afghan refugees
04 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia voters back PM over refugees
01 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Pacific states step into the breach
01 Sep 01 | South Asia
Pakistan halts deportations
13 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia condemns vigilantes
31 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia's migrant policy under fire
12 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Boost for anti-immigrant party
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