The Australian government has granted refugee status to 77 Afghan asylum seekers detained on the Pacific island of Nauru, leaving 94 still awaiting their fate.
The 77, most of whom had been detained since 2001 when Australia introduced its policy of turning incoming boat people away to offshore holding camps, will be offered temporary protection visas allowing resettlement in Australia, Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said on Monday.
Another eight were rejected and now face deportation, leaving a further 94 asylum seekers still on Nauru awaiting a decision.
Vanstone said the decision made over the weekend to allow the 77 to stay followed an announcement last week that 15 asylum seekers detained on Nauru had been granted refugee status, with three refused.
She said it was in keeping with a commitment to reassess the cases of Afghan asylum seekers in a review using information provided by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees which takes into account changed circumstances in Afghanistan.
She said all those granted refugee protection would continue to receive support including accommodation, food, clothing and medical care while arrangements were made to resettle them.
"Australia has made it clear all along that it will take its fair share of refugees needing resettlement from the offshore processing centres and this announcement confirms the Australian government's commitment to that," she said.