Afghan Refugees Await Australian Judge’s Decision; WFP Requests Funds
The 434 refugees awaiting admission to Papua New Guinea before being resettled to New Zealand and the small island republic of Nauru will face at least another three days at sea in the Australian naval ship Manoora. The refugees will not arrive in Papua New Guinea before Monday, say most political experts, as an Australian Federal Court is still considering charges brought by civil liberties lawyers against Australia and its Prime Minister John Howard for refusing to accept the refugees, mostly from Afghanistan, onto Australian soil. Judge Tony North could deliver his decision later today or on Monday, September 10. If the claim is rejected, 150 of the refugees will be immediately flown to New Zealand, and the rest to Nauru, where they will be housed in Anaoe Village, a new apartment complex.
As millions of Afghans who have fled the Taliban, decades of armed conflict, and terrible drought struggle for survival in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has launched a new appeal for a $151 million emergency operation to save millions of Afghans from starvation. WFP staff have reported pre-famine conditions in the country, including reports of people eating poisonous grasses and locusts mixed with animal fodder in central Afghanistan. According to Saira Shah’s “CNN Presents” report in late August, Afghan women and their children have been forced to eat moldy bread scraps intended for animal feed.
Media Resources: Reuters – September 6 &7, 2001 and “CNN Presents” – August 27, 2001