News National Settled Nauru refugees speak out

Settled Nauru refugees speak out

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Refugees who have been resettled on Nauru have spoken for the first time of their relief to get out of detention on the tiny Pacific island.

But they still want to come to Australia.

Men and women representing four Iranian and Lebanese families were interviewed on video by Nauru Media after their claims had been finalised.

One of the Iranian women interviewed said she wanted to complete the university accounting degree she had to abandon before fleeing her country.

Her friend, a Lebanese refugee, said she wanted to be an airline hostess.

“Here, when I walk in any street in Nauru I don’t hear any sound or booms or someone shot someone. I am here in safety,” she said.

An Iranian man said his health had improved since being released.

“I am feeling very well because I am not in prison any more,” he said through a translator.

Nauru Media adviser Lyall Mercer – who was present during the interviews – said all the refugees were articulate and appeared well educated.

“It was clear that while all of those we spoke to were financially better off in their home countries, they all said that they felt much safer in Nauru,” he said.

“They seemed to really appreciate the Nauruan people and were making the best of their situation.”

Mr Mercer said that none showed obvious signs of distress and appeared comfortable in their surroundings, “notwithstanding that it was clear they would rather be in Australia”.

The latest figures from Operation Sovereign Borders showed that as of July 31 there were 1146 asylum seekers detained on Nauru still awaiting their fate.

Ninety-nine asylum seekers have been processed and determined as refugees as at June 30, but 29 have had their claims rejected.

Refugees that are resettled are free to move around the island, seek employment and be part of the community.

They have access to settlement and healthcare support services from Save the Children Australia and International Health and Medical Services.

Nauru has been engaged in a global public relations campaign to improve its image and attract investment.

From August 1 its airline, which has traded since 2006 as Our Airline, was renamed Nauru Airlines and given a new lease of life.

The Nauruan government has invited actress and human rights advocate Angelina Jolie to make a high-profile visit to the island.