INDEPENDENT NEWS

Locke calls on NZ to break Nauru deadlock

Published: Mon 29 Dec 2003 10:39 AM
Locke calls on NZ to break Nauru deadlock
Green MP Keith Locke wants New Zealand to help break the impasse over hunger-striking Afghan asylum seekers on Nauru.
"Australian Immigration Minister, Amanda Vanstone said on Tuesday that New Zealand is "welcome" to take any of the refugees," said Mr Locke, the Green Foreign Affairs spokesperson. "We should take up the offer, as we did two years ago with refugees from the Tampa."
"There are still 284 asylum seekers on Nauru and many of them have been there for over two years.
"Surely we can act with sympathy and help out, rather go along with Australia's hard line that it's safe for the refugees to go back to Afghanistan.
"In fact, it isn't safe. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has just stated they will review asylum seeker cases on Nauru, because of the growing conflict in the south and east of Afghanistan.
"Yesterday, it was reported that the hunger strikers want the New Zealand High Commissioner in Australia to be involved in a joint meeting with the Australian Immigration and the UNHCR to resolve the crisis and end the hunger strike. (Melbourne Age, December 27).
"We can't stand idly by and watch this tragedy unfolding on Nauru," Mr Locke said. "Since the hunger-strike began three weeks ago, 45 asylum seekers have now refused food, and many have ended up in hospital.
"Recently I received a personal email appeal from an 18-year Afghan on Nauru, Hassan Ali, who has detained on Nauru for two years. He wrote: 'Our life is in danger. Please, you help us and take us out of this prison. I have a lot of hopes to you and will be thankful to you.'
"This festive season let us show the Kiwi compassion we are noted for," said Mr Locke.

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