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Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 09:41 GMT
Nauru takes 400 more migrants
Afghan refugees welcomed to Nauru, September 2001
Nauru has already accepted boatloads of migrants
The tiny Pacific island of Nauru has agreed to take another 400 boat people who were caught trying to reach Australia, in return for $5m (Aus $10m) in aid.

Cash-strapped Nauru has already accepted about 800 asylum seekers under Australia's Pacific Solution of diverting unwanted boat people to its neighbours.

It's an arrangement that suits both of our countries very well

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.
The tough policy was brought in after a standoff in August when Australia refused to take 433 asylum seekers who rescued from a sinking boat by a Norwegian freighter.

Many of those migrants were sent to makeshift camps on Nauru - described by Amnesty International last week as "hellish and barren".

The camps were set up to temporarily house migrants while their asylum claims are processed.

Pacific tour

Nauru signed the new deal on Tuesday during a visit by Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.

Nauru camp
Australia has built two camps on Nauru
"Australia will continue to meet all costs associated with the transfer, processing and accommodation of the asylum seekers, in addition to meeting the operating costs of the processing centres," Mr Downer said in a statement.

The minister is on a tour of the Pacific to try to harness support for the controversial policy.

Papua New Guinea has taken in asylum seekers, but Fiji, Kiribati and the tiny nation of Tuvalu have all said no.

Public support

Australia is trying to find places for more than 600 boat people who are staying temporarily on Australia's remote territories of Christmas and Coos islands.

An asylum-seeker refused entry to Australia
Many asylum seekers come via Indonesia
Mr Downer said the aid money for Nauru - the world's smallest republic - would be focused on "health, education and infrastructure."

Last year, more than 4,000 asylum seekers got into Australia on boats arranged by smuggling gangs operating mainly out of Indonesia. Most were from Afghanistan, Iraq, the Middle East and South Asia.

The government crackdown on asylum seekers won widespread support in Australia, winning it a third term in office in November elections.

But Australia has faced a constant stream of criticism from refugee agencies, former political leaders, church and human rights groups.

Meanwhile, a woman held with 530 other boat people on Christmas Island has been diagnosed with typhoid.

The woman, who arrived on a boat from Indonesia, is now in hospital with her two children. Her identity and nationality were not released.

Australian National University's Greg Fry
"Nauru has squandered all its resources"
See also:

06 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia's offshore camps are 'hellish'
16 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
UN attacks Australia's asylum policy
14 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia 'not desperate' on asylum
13 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
Sinking island urged to accept migrants
15 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Nauru accepts 260 more migrants
10 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Papua accepts boat people
20 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Asylum seekers angry and fearful
03 Sep 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Nauru
31 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australia's asylum policy
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