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Thursday, 4 October, 2001, 17:35 GMT 18:35 UK
Refugee standoff ends
Transfer from HMAS Manoora to landing craft
Landing craft took the refugees ashore
The last of more than 600 asylum seekers shipped by Australia to the Pacific island of Nauru have been brought ashore ending a 12-day standoff.

The final group were among more than 200 mainly Iraqi and Palestinian refugees who were refusing to leave the HMAS Manoora, demanding instead to be taken to Australia.

Nauru chief secretary Matthew Batsuia said: "We can now get on with the real business of processing their asylum claims."

Group of women and children landing on Nauru
There were some protests as the last groups came ashore
Nauru has agreed to host most of the asylum seekers as part of an aid deal with Australia worth about $10m. About 130, mainly Afghan refugees, have been flown on to New Zealand where their applications are being processed.

Another Australian navy vessel, the HMAS Tobruk, is on its way to Nauru with 262 asylum seekers on board.

Strong criticism

Australia has been strongly criticised for its recently adopted policy of refusing to accept refugees seeking to enter the country by boat.

The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, which is processing the claims of those already on Nauru, says it will not help with any more arrivals.

The final group came ashore as dusk fell.

Correspondents said many appeared unhappy. Some argued with the Australian representatives and briefly refused to disembark.

HMAS Manoora
Australia said the standoff was holding up deployments elsewhere
Altogether about 160 people left the Manoora on Thursday.

A spokeswoman for Australia's Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said: "We've been incredibly patient with people. It has taken 12 days to get them off and we're disappointed they did not comply earlier."

Attempts by uniformed troops to forcibly take the refugees ashore had run into trouble earlier this week when Nauru suspended the operation, insisting it would not accept anyone who had not disembarked voluntarily.

The Australian Government said the refugees had to leave because the Manoora was needed to help cover military commitments in the wake of the attacks on US on 11 September.

See also:

03 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Nauru concern at refugee 'mix-up'
15 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
New setback for Afghan boat people
10 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Nauru accepts 200 more migrants
09 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia talks tough on migrants
03 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia ships out Afghan refugees
03 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Nauru
03 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Nauru
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