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Archbishop urges humanitarian solution to refugee stalemate

Adelaide's Coadjutor Archbishop Philip Wilson yesterday called for a humanitarian response to the Federal Government's problem of the Norwegian ship Tampa carrying 438 refugees moored off the Australian territory of Christmas Island.

Speaking on ABC Local Radio in Adelaide, he said the first responsibility is to ensure the safety of the lives on board, "to care for them and look after them and then make decisions after that about where they should go".

He said: "[Australia has gone to] extraordinary lengths to rescue lone yachtsmen in the Southern Ocean because they were in danger, and here we have people who are really in great danger because of illness and the problems and difficulties they have."

Archbishop Wilson emphasised that humanitarian concerns should take priority over legal issues: "If there are legal issues, well then, let's rescue them first and then we can sort out all the legal problems after that."

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