Nauru asylum transfers to begin
Tue, 11 Sep 2012 2:29p.m.
Australia's immigration minister has announced that refugees seeking asylum in Australia will start to be transferred for processing to the Pacific Island nation of Nauru later this week.
About two thousand potential refugees have arrived by boat since the Australian government announced in the middle of August its plans to reopen refugee processing centres in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
In that time most have been taken to Christmas Island, which is a territory of Australia in the Indian Ocean.
"The government of Australia and Nauru have been working towards a transfer to occur in the latter part of this week," Australian Immigration Minister Chris Bowen told reporters in Canberra on Monday, after announcing he had signed the necessary paperwork.
The Australian government plans to fly five hundred asylum seekers to the Pacific Island nation by the end of September.
Under Australia's Migration Act, immigration department officials are obliged to take offshore anyone who arrives by boat unless instructed otherwise by the minister or his delegate.
It was revealed that the company Transfield Services had won a AU$24.5 million contract to provide cleaning, catering, security, and transport services on Nauru.
International Health and Medical Services will provide medical support, including mental healthcare, after being awarded a $22m contract.
Bowen would not discuss whether women and children would be included in the first transfers to the island.
The government also plans to open a processing centre on Papua New Guinea's Manus Island.
Bowen said the government was taking a step by step approach to the establishment of a processing centre on the island and that thirty defence personnel and two immigration officials will head to the island in the coming days.
Click the ‘video’ tab for a full report by Channel 7’s Mark Riley.
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