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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2006, 08:50 GMT 09:50 UK
Six more Games athletes reappear
Commonwealth Games 2006 logo
Australia has revoked the Games visas issued for the Sierra Leoneans
A further six Sierra Leonean athletes missing from the Commonwealth Games have handed themselves in to Australian immigration officials in Sydney.

Another six from the African nation, detained by police on Monday, have been told they can stay in Australia pending an application for refugee status.

Thirteen athletes are still missing after the Games finished on Sunday.

Three of the Sierra Leoneans detained say they fear being forced to undergo female circumcision if they go home.

The 13 athletes still unaccounted for include nine from Cameroon, a Bangladeshi runner and a Tanzanian boxer.

Two remain missing from Sierra Leone, which saw 14 of its 21-strong squad disappear from Melbourne.

Twenty-one went missing from the Games hosted by the UK in Manchester four years ago.

'Difficult life'

One of the athletes detained on Monday, 19-year-old Hassan Fullah, told Australian television he feared being killed, as his 12-year-old brother was, if he had to return to Sierra Leone.

The latest group of six to reappear turned up in a refugee centre in Sydney, where they were put in touch with Australian immigration authorities.

2002 Commonwealth Games: 21 Sierra Leoneans, 5 Bangladeshis, 1 Pakistani missing in Manchester
2002 Asian Games: 12 Nepalese, 3 Sri Lankans and 1 Mongolian missing in S Korea
2000 Sydney Olympics: 80 officials and athletes overstay visas, 11 cases unresolved

The head of the Northern Beaches Refugee Sanctuary told AFP news agency: "All of them feel very strongly that if they go back to Sierra Leone, life will be very difficult for them."

Officials said the athletes' cases were being considered.

The Tanzanian Commonwealth team is to return home on Tuesday without boxer Iddi Kimweri, the first Tanzanian athlete to disappear while representing the country.

The BBC's Emmanuel Muga in Dar es Salaam says most people in the country, including the boxer's 17-year-old wife Rukia, have been shocked by the news.

"Kimweri is a very, very nice man. He likes his family and his job and I'm surprised by what has happened to him," Rukia told the BBC.

The special visas issued for the Games do not expire for another month, but Australia revoked those of the 14 missing Sierra Leoneans, making them illegal immigrants.

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