Port-Louis- Mauritius (PANA) -- Six Iraqis, who have been languishing in Mauritia n jail, since their arrival in November 2008, were Wednesday granted refugee sta t us under the initiative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UN H CR), PANA learnt from their lawyer in the Mauritian capital.
The Iraqis arrived on the island on 24 November 2008 with false passports on the ir way to Australia, but were clamped into jail in Beau-Bassin, 20 kilometres so u th of Port-Louis.
An attempt by their lawyer, Mr.
Bhanji Soni, to get them released on bail last w eek failed following an appeal lodged by the police against the attempt.
In a letter addressed to the Mauritian Prime Minister's Office, the Senior Regio nal Protection Officer of the UNHCR, Monique Ekoko, informed the Mauritian gover n ment that the six Iraqis had obtained the official status of refugees of the UNH C R, which, she wrote, places them under the mandate of this international organis a tion.
She stressed that the UNHCR would from now on take responsibility for their (Ira qis') protection and assistance.
Ekoko also said that the UNHCR Regional Office in Pretoria, South Africa, w ould continue in its efforts to find a country of asylum for the six.
In the light of this development, the director of Amnesty International (Mauriti us), Lindley Couronne, said there was no longer any obstacle to the immediate re l ease and without conditions of Faraj Antonie Amira (55 years), Shukri Harmuz Aor a ha (29), George William Issac (20), Martin William Issac (23), Jebrail Nassen To m a (24) and Hossam Yones Toma (28).