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Saturday, 15 September, 2001, 06:42 GMT 07:42 UK
New setback for Afghan boat people
Nauru will receive $10m in aid for taking the refugees
By Damian Grammaticas in Nauru

The Australian Government has suffered a serious setback in its plans to process more than 500 mainly Afghan asylum seekers on the Pacific island of Nauru.

Islanders have refused to let the asylum seekers be housed on their land.

Local landowners are demanding extra compensation

It means the Australians are now having to construct temporary shelters for all the boat people on a hot and exposed piece of wasteland which has no ready-built facilities.

The asylum seekers fled Afghanistan and its Taleban regime hoping the developed world would give them a welcome and a better life.

First the Australian Government sent SAS soldiers to prevent them from landing on its territory, and now there is worse to come.


Australian military engineers are busy constructing a camp for the Afghans on a desolate spot in the centre of the island of Nauru.

Asylum seekers on board the Tampa
Australia refused to allow the refugees onto its land
In every direction is a barren lifeless vista of bare limestone rock, all vegetation gone, the result of years of over-mining.

The original plan was to house most of the boat people in air-conditioned bungalows by Nauru's seashore, but that is now impossible.

Local landowners are demanding extra compensation.

Many Nauruans do not see why their island, the world's smallest republic, should have to shoulder Australia's burden.

Instead the Afghans, who are due to arrive on Monday, will have to live in the stifling heat of the island's interior in baking temperatures under corrugated iron roofs.

The site does not even have water, electricity or sanitation.

The BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Nauru
"The soldiers have just two days to build a camp"
See also:

10 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Nauru accepts 200 more migrants
09 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia talks tough on migrants
04 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia voters back PM over refugees
03 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia ships out Afghan refugees
01 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Pacific states step into the breach
03 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Nauru
03 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Nauru
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