by Allanah Leahy – EM TV Online
Papua New Guinea’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Rimbik Pato, has reaffirmed the Papua New Guinea government’s paramount concern for the safety of asylum seekers at the Manus detention centre.
This follows recent protests at the centre over their lengthy stay at the detention centre and concerns of being ostracised in PNG’society.
Minister Pato also said PNG’s Immigration and Citizenship Services Authority (PNGICSA) and Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection, are working together on a ‘regional resettlement arrangement’ for asylum seekers.
An awareness campaign is expected to be launched, which will include information on the best way to settle the asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea.
The National Refugee Settlement Policy is also to be redrafted. Thirty asylum seekers have now been processed, which makes a total of 80 determined asylum seekers who will be settled in PNG once the policy is finalised.
Minister Pato said the resettlements have commenced after nine asylum seekers qualified for ‘full refugee status’ and are now residing at a second detention centre in East Lorengau after moving from the main centre on Lombrum.
Although Minister Pato said additional costs for resettling the asylum seekers and integrating them into PNG’society will be Australia’s burden, Australia’s Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton told the ABC that it is PNG’s domestic problem, the ABC reported.
Prime Minister Peter O&rsquO’Neill has said that most of the asylum seekers at the Manus detention centre in Lombrum are not ‘genuine’, and said talks with Iran and Iraq regarding the refugees’ return have been ongoing, according to the ABC.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is highly against this, telling the ABC last week that a forceful repatriation would be a breach of ‘customary international law’.
“UNHCR advocates that asylum seekers should be given access to a full and efficient refugee status determination process,” UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch told the ABC.
Minister Pato announced on Monday that the asylum seekers arrested after the protests are still being held in police cells without charge, according to The Guardian Australia.
“The powers of the police are wide, and they can detain people in certain circumstances,” he said. Minister Pato also told the ABC that ‘misbehaving’ refugees will not be resettled.