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Numbers in offshore processing centres continue to fall.



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Philip Ruddock MP MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND MULTICULTURAL AND INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS

Numbers in Offshore Processing Centres Continue To Fall

MPS 62/2003

The number of people accommodated in offshore processing centres continues to fall with the overnight arrival in Australia of a further 21 refugees, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Philip Ruddock, said today.

The refugees, who arrived in Brisbane before transiting to other states, comprised 20 Afghans and one Iraqi - 14 single adult males and one family group (adult female and six minors).

'This arrival signals further resolution of the caseload on Nauru,' Mr Ruddock said.

In total,1,544 asylum seekers have been accommodated at the offshore processing centres since September 2001 with a peak population of 1,515 in February last year. Of those, only 335 remain of which 10 are refugees.

'This latest transfer of refugees brings to 743 the total number of refugees who have been resettled.

'Australia, in keeping with the Government's undertaking, is taking its fair share with total arrivals from Manus and Nauru now at 373 people,' Mr Ruddock said.

People have also been resettled in New Zealand (334), Sweden (17), Canada (nine), Denmark (six) and Norway (four) but the Minister said New Zealand's involvement needed to be particularly acknowledged.

'The contribution of New Zealand has been vital to regional efforts in addressing the issues of refugee protection and people smuggling,' Mr Ruddock said.

The policies which Australia has pursued over recent months with the cooperation of other countries have been successful in deterring further boat arrivals which in turn has freed up places for refugee and humanitarian applicants overseas.

In addition to refugee resettlements, a total of 446 people have also voluntarily returned home from Nauru and Manus. Of those, 407 returned with the assistance package offered by the Australian Government. The remaining 39 received financial assistance from the International Organization for Migration.

10 September 2003

Media contact: Steve Ingram, 0419 278 715