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The detention center on the South Pacific island nation of Nauru was based on a Statement of Principles, signed on 10 September2001 by the President of Nauru, René Harris, and Australia's then Minister for Defence, Peter Reith. The statement opened the way to establish a detention center for up to 800 people and was accompanied by a pledge of $20 million in development activities. The initial intake was to be people rescued by the MV Tampa (see Tampa affair), with the understanding that they would leave Nauru by May 2002. Subsequently a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on 11 December boosting refugee numbers to 1200 and the promised development activity by an additional $10 million.

Initial plans were for asylum seekers to be housed in modern air-conditioned housing which had been built for the games of the International Weightlifting Federation. This plan was changed after landowners' requests for extra compensation were rejected.

Two camps were then built. The first camp, called "Topside", was at an old sports ground and ovalmarker in the Meneng District ( ). The second camp, called "State House" was on the site of the old Presidential quarters also in the Meneng District ( ).

By July 2005, 32 people were detained in asylum seeker detention in Nauru, consisting of 16 Iraqis, 11 Afghans, 2 Iranians, 2 Bangladeshis and 1 Pakistani.: All but two Iraqis were released to Australia, the last group of 25 leaving on November 1, 2005. The remaining two Iraqis stayed in custody for over a year. The last one was finally accepted by an unnamed Scandinavian country after five years in detention, in January 2007. The other was in the hospital in Australia at the time, and was later given permission to remain in Australia while his asylum case was being decided.

In September 2006, a group of eight Burmesemarker Rohingya men were transferred there from Christmas Island [92918].

On 15 March 2007, the Australian Government announced that 83 Sri Lankan Tamil people would be transferred from Christmas Islandmarker to the Nauru detention center. They arrived in Nauru by the end of the month.

In April 2007 proposals were discussed whereby detainees in Guantánamomarker, Cubamarker, would be transferred to Australia, and detainees in Nauru would be processed for possible settlement in the United Statesmarker.

In December 2007, newly elected Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced that his country would no longer make use of the Nauru detention center, and would put an immediate end to the "Pacific Solution". The last remaining Burmese and Sri Lankan detainees were granted residency rights in Australia .

Nauru reacted with concern at the prospect of potentially losing much-needed aid from Australia .


  2. « Pacific solution ends but tough stance to remain », Craig Skehan, Sydney Morning Herald, 8 December 2007
  3. « Burmese detainees granted asylum », Cath Hart, The Australian, 10 December 2007
  4. « Nauru fears gap when camps close », The Age, 11 December 2007

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