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Last refugees leave Nauru.

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Senator Chris Evans Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Last refugees leave Nauru

Friday, 8 February 2008

The last of the refugees detained at the Offshore Processing Centre in Nauru will arrive in Australia today, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, said.

The 21 Sri Lankans are the final members of a group of 82 refugees detained on Nauru that have been resettled in Australia as part of the humanitarian resettlement program.

The Australian Government has initiated discussions with the Nauruan Government over the closure of the centre.

'The Rudd Government pledged to dismantle the Pacific solution and we have moved quickly on that front,' Senator Evans said.

'The Pacific solution was a cynical, costly and ultimately unsuccessful exercise introduced on the eve of a Federal election by the Howard Government.'

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship expended $289 million between September 2001 and June 2007 to run the Nauru and Manus OPCs.

A total of 1637 people were detained in the Nauru and Manus facilities, of whom 1153 (or 70 per cent) were ultimately resettled from the OPCs to Australia or other countries. Of those who were resettled, around 61 per cent (705 people) were resettled in Australia.

The bulk of the refugees housed on Nauru and Manus had fled Iraq and Afghanistan - two countries where Australia still has troops committed.

The facility on Manus Province has not been used to house asylum seekers since May 2004. The Papua New Guinea Minister for Foreign Affairs Trade and Immigration, the Hon Sam Abal MP will be visiting Australia next week to commence discussions on the future of the centre.

Australia will continue to honour its commitment to a generous aid and capacity development program for Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

The asylum claims of future unauthorised boat arrivals will be processed on Christmas Island. Christmas Island will soon have an increased capacity for offshore processing of unauthorised arrivals with the opening of the new immigration detention centre built by the former Government.

The new centre on Christmas Island will have the capacity to house 400 people with a surge capacity of a further 400 people.

Media contact: Simon Dowding - (02) 6277 7860 or 0411 138 541