I’ve written a few times before about the two Iraqi refugees who were stuck on Nauru without any future and without any legal rights, and the Australian government’s apparent willingness to leave them in that situation indefinitely. One of the men is now in Australia, having been brought here last month for health reasons on the insistence of the Nauruan government. I had met him on my previous visits to Nauru, and managed to visit him last week to give him some support and let him him know people have not fogotten about him. He still has the same problem of a lack of certainty and control over his future, but he now faces it within Australia and certainly can receive direct supportive from visitors much more easily.
I just saw some news suggesting the Nauruan government is further ramping up the pressure on the Australian government to resolve the situation for the remaining Iraqi. The report states that Nauru is planning to charge Australia $100 000 to renew the refugee’s visa – every month. If Australia won’t pay, I assume Nauru will not take any more asylum seekers from Australia. As far as I know, the eight Burmese asylum seekers who arrived in Australian territory last month have yet to be shifted to Nauru from Christmas Island, so this situation may put that transfer in jeopardy.
According to this report on Radio New Zealand, Nauru has also charged Australia for visas for the 8 Burmese asylum seekers who are to be sent there – $1500 each. These are reportedly the first asylum seekers where a direct fee has been charged for their visa (although Australia provided an expanded aid package to ‘encourage’ Nauru to agree to take asylum seekers in the first place back in 2001).