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Nauru president denies harsh treatment of refugees

September 13, 2016, 16:42 UTC+3 SYDNEY

"We're Christian nation and have a soft heart to people in hard situations", the president said

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Nauru’s President Baron Waqa

Nauru’s President Baron Waqa

© Administration of Nauru's president

SYDNEY, September 13. /TASS/. Nauru’s President Baron Waqa denied the Western media’s reports of harsh treatment of refugees in the tiny island nation. "These reports are baseless and fabricated", Baron Waqa said in an interview with TASS.

He pointed out that "the negative comments are made by the reporters who have no idea what's happening in Nauru".

The leader of Nauru also said he is going to take part in the 71st United Nations General Assembly due to begin on Tuesday in New York.

The Republic of Nauru is one of the smallest independent states in the world. Only Monaco and the Vatican are smaller in size than Nauru while only the Vatican is smaller in population. Nauru’s population does not exceed 11,000.

"We have 285 asylum seekers", the president said. According to him, "these people are seeking refugee status and we are currently processing them and determining their cases. We also have 879 refugees who are waiting for acceptance by a third country. Currently these people are residents of Nauru. The media portray very unfairly how we take care about these people. I stand by my comment that these allegations are cooked up and fabricated. It was done to serve the other purpose and I don't want to comment on that", Baron Waqa added.

"We're Christian nation and have a soft heart to people in hard situations", the president said. "We know the situation these people are in and we welcome them. We actually opened up our island for them, we opened up everything for them. We employ them, we allow them to work, to start up their own business and so on. They can fully participate socially and economically in our community life".

"The reporters and some advocates say that refugees are confined in a small island, but let me tell you that our people live in this small island for many centuries and we have a very robust community. We have our own culture, our own language and we continue to strive as an island. We don't have much but we share all we have", Baron Waqa noted.

When asked if Nauru’s authorities investigate complaints received from the refugees, the president said that "there always will be problems between these people themselves. Sometimes there's agitation because some of them do not get what they want. And you also should keep in mind that some of these people are working for the audience in Australia where they are eager to get to".

Baron Waqa added that "these people are from Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Somalia, Middle East and Eastern Africa. It's not an easy task to look after these people of different origins, trying to keep them calm. They have little conflicts between themselves. Our police investigates every complaint and a lot of it is just baseless and trivial".

Baron Waqa also said that "things are going well at the Center in Nauru. Nauru is doing it's very best to take care about these people. They are not easy to work with because they have different backgrounds and came from different countries".

"They only sleep in the Center but they are free to go everywhere. They go to school, to the hospital, they work, they are employed. Some of them work in my office, in the Parliament, in government offices", he said.

He said that unlike Papua New Guinea’s authorities who have recently announced a plan for closing a similar refugee center, Nauru does not intend to close its Center. As Baron Waqa said, "of course these people will never become citizens of Nauru or Australia. Eventually they will leave. Some of them will leave of their own accord to their home countries and those who would not be able to do that hopefully will agree to go to the third country. Nauru and Australia are working in partnership. We will accept whatever comes in the future but meanwhile we'll continue to live alongside them. We're doing our part and we are doing it very well. So right now I don't envision the closing of this Center".

Answering a question about his forthcoming meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in New York, the president said: "Russia and Nauru are very close friends. We'll discuss the areas of cooperation and of course the issues of climate change, renewable energy, those sorts of things. These are just the normal bilateral issues we'll be talking about. Of course we'll discuss some other issues about which I cannot tell now. But let me just say that the relationship we have is very warm and cordial".

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