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Flotillas of Hope


Flotillas of Hope

Flotillas of Hope continue on course for Nauru following heroic send offs along the east coast of Australia. Now into their 12th day at sea, the 7 person crew this week reported from the South Bellona Reef 500 miles north west of Brisbane their ongoing gratitude to all who continue to support them and their desire to be allowed to land on Nauru to deliver their "Cargo of Hope".

The "Eureka", a faster boat, waited 2 days at the sheltered reef for "One-Off" to arrive. ".... and so it was a rush of joy, adrenalin & relief to see the Eureka's mast on the horizon & to watch it grow larger for the 3 miles as we approached" said Research Scientist, Nerida on board the "One-Off". Time at Bellona reef was well spent conducting safety checks and carrying out repairs as well as welcome relief from the 30 knot winds and surging 10 meter waves.

The next leg of the journey will take them to Santa Cruz and will take about 7 days.

The crew also expressed their delight at the news that Aladdin Sisalem had gained an Australian visa.

It was almost "Stavros Overboard" 2 days out from Brisbane when the steering cable snapped, throwing Stavros to the deck during the early hours of the morning. Fortunately Captain Lance was keeping Stavros company and saved him from being thrown overboard.

The Nauruan government remain firm that they will not allow the vessels into their 12 mile limit and continue their threats of vessel impoundment, heavy fines and prison as well as imposing a suspension of the "right of innocent passage" as determined by the international law of the sea.

The crew ask that supporters lobby for permission for them to land...."just one day is all we ask for - to deliver our gifts, to meet with the asylum seekers and let them know that they have not been forgotten".

The situation on Nauru is complicated by a political crisis. Nauru's 18-member parliament has been stalemated since March, when the speaker defected to the opposition, giving pro- and anti- government forces nine votes each. Since then, no budget bill has been passed.

Only government payment from Australia, is saving Nauru from collapse with Australia paying Nauru millions of Australian taxpayers dollars per year from 2002 to detain asylum-seekers who had unsuccessfuly tried to reach Australian shores under the agreement known as the "Pacific Solution".

American Company General Electric which loaned Nauru $160 million in 1998 has appointed receivers following default in January this year. Nauru has considerable property holdings in Australia, comprising three hotels, the Royal Randwick Shopping Centre in Sydney and the flagship Nauru House in Melbourne's financial centre.

Nauru President Rene Harris and Finance Minister Kinza Clodumar are currently in Australia trying to arrange refinancing of the loan. For a century, Nauru survived on sales of phosphate that once covered 80 percent of the island. Profits were handled by the government-run Nauru Phosphate Royalties Trust. Today, Nauru resembles a lunar landscape. The islanders live on a narrow coastal strip approx 150 metres to 300 metres wide that encircles the barren interior.

To keep up to date with the Flotillas of Hope progress, visit the website http://www.flotilla2004.com.

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