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Uniting Church welcomes action to end suffering on Nauru

The National Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia has today welcomed the Rudd Government’s initiative to end the detention of asylum seekers on the island nation of Nauru.

Rev Elenie Poulos, National Director of UnitingJustice Australia, praised Immigration Minister, Chris Evans’ decision to provide refugee status to seven Burmese men currently detained on Nauru.

“We congratulate the Federal Government on taking important steps to provide resettlement opportunities to these seven men who have been held on the island for more than a year,” Ms Poulos said.

“We are pleased that the Minister has promised to quickly review the cases of the remaining refugees and asylum seekers and to end once and for all this damaging practice of detention on Nauru.”

Ms Poulos said the Uniting Church was fully supportive of the dismantling of the Pacific Solution, set up by the previous Federal Government.

“The Pacific Solution has placed us in breach of our international refugee obligations and adversely affected our reputation as a country committed to upholding human rights.

“It has been a cruel policy and its detrimental effects on individual refugees, some of whom were detained for more than three years, have been well documented.

“This policy, which has cost millions of dollars, has seen refugees languishing on Nauru and Manus Islands for years with no access to proper services and appropriate representation, and no clear hope for future resettlement, as the Government played politics with their lives.

“We welcome action to dismantle the Pacific Solution policy, and to provide refugees with resettlement opportunities within the Australian community.”

Uniting Church in Australia members, congregations and agencies around the country are involved in caring for refugees and asylum seekers and advocating for just and appropriate policies which uphold their rights and respond positively to their needs.

The Uniting Church has spoken out against the Pacific Solution since its inception.