Australia, Nauru ink pact on unauthorised maritime arrivals

Canberra, Aug.6 (ANI): Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has signed an arrangement with the President of the Republic of Nauru, Baron Waqa, regarding unauthorised maritime arrivals.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreed to by Australia and Nauru, is in broadly similar terms to the arrangements with Papua New Guinea.

This MOU strengthens the regional approach taken by the Australian Government.

Under the Arrangement, it will now be possible for asylum seekers to not only be processed in Nauru, if they are found to be in need of protection, they could also be settled there.

In the first instance, the government will focus on transferees in family groups and unaccompanied minors for settlement.

Nauru is a nation with a small population. We would only expect modest numbers to ever be involved in settlement and our expectation is that they would be family groups and unaccompanied minors.

The significance of today's announcement is not the numbers that are involved, but that we are adding an extra layer to a comprehensive regional approach and we thank the Government of Nauru for that.

The Government of Nauru first raised with Australia the prospect of looking at settlement arrangements in a meeting between Justice Minister David Adeang and Immigration Minister Tony Burke in Canberra on July 9.

Since that time, the two governments have been working together in identifying appropriate locations for family accommodation.

It is clear that the only way to deal with the challenge of people smuggling is through a comprehensive regional approach.

A cornerstone of this regional approach is to ensure people smugglers do not have a product to sell because people that come by boat without a visa will not be settled in Australia.

The government has always said that people smugglers would continue to test our resolve.

Today's announcement is a reminder of the full strength of the resolve of this government.

Australia is committed to Nauru's future development. Over the last three years under our Partnership for Development, Australia has invested $91.1 million in aid to Nauru, to support better health, education, electricity and water for the people of Nauru.

Australia expects to provide $29.9 million in aid to Nauru in 2013-14.

The recent riots involving a number of the single male transferees at Nauru on July 19 has led to a number of individuals being charged under the law of Nauru.

Australia respects the law of Nauru and respects that these individuals will have their charges tested following due process in the courts of Nauru.

The incident has put particular pressure on the capacity of the prison in Nauru.

The Australian Government has agreed to assist the Government of Nauru in expanding its prison capacity.

Today's announcement will allow families and unaccompanied minors to settle and reside in Nauru without gaining citizenship.

We have instructed Australian officials to work with officials from Nauru to streamline visa arrangements. (ANI)

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