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Nauru appeals to refugees

Monday 9 May 2016 | Published in Regional

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NAURU – The Nauruan Government has made what is widely seen as a conciliatory statement, calling for unity between Nauruans and the island nation’s refugees.

“We are aware that you did not design to come to Nauru and that many of you do not plan to stay here permanently,” Border Protection Minister David Adeang said in a national address broadcast over Nauru radio in several languages and on YouTube.

“We understand how distressing it must be for time to pass with few long-term solutions being offered to you.”

The statement comes in the aftermath of two refugees who set themselves on fire on Nauru: Iranian refugee Omid Masoumali, who died last week following the incident, while the other, 21-year-old Hodan Yasin, remains in critical condition.

“I want to express, on behalf of the government of Nauru and the Nauruan people, how deeply saddened and concerned we are by the recent tragic incidents.”

However Adeang says his government is still working on long-term resettlement options for the refugees, but in the meantime, he is urging refugees to use their time constructively by taking up opportunities in business or getting an education.

The minister also hinted at the prospect of the refugees’ family members coming to visit Nauru.

“Nauruans have a strong sense of family and we are well aware that you are far from your families and we understand the pain this must cause you on a daily basis,” he said.

“I wish to assure you that Nauru will welcome your families if they are able to visit you and we will facilitate this to the extent possible.

“We have also provided a facility to issue refugee travel documents for you.”

The tone of the message is markedly conciliatory, particularly in light of comments made by Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Nauru’s President Baron Waqa in recent days.

Both have taken aim at refugee advocates, saying they are making the situation on the island worse by giving refugees false hope that they will one day come to Australia.

The statement also comes amid safety concerns in the Nauruan community.

At least one school closed early on Tuesday after rumours of a bomb threat spread across the island.

The government of Nauru did not comment on whether a threat had been made, but local parents on the island confirmed that a school had been closed down.

In his statement, Adeang called for unity between Nauruans and the refugees.

“I must ask you to recognise and respect the fact that this is our home, our beloved nation, our pleasant island, and that you are our welcome guests,” he said.

“It is our hope and our prayer that we can work together to ensure that we can live safely and harmoniously together in Nauru, not as separate communities but as one community under one God.”

- ABC