Islands News

Manus: Pato announces new refugee stance

by Allanah Leahy – EM TV Online

Temporary ‘refugee visas’ granting access to a facility in East Lorengau have been given to 10 refugees from the Manus detention centre in Papua New Guinea.

PNG’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Rimbink Pato made the announcement late last week after meeting with Australia’s Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Julie Biship. Australian media reported that the 10 refugees will be moved to an open facility built in East Lorengau by the Australian government, run entirely by PNG officials according to Minister Pato.

ABC Australia reported that the new centre will offer lessons in English, Tok Pisin and PNG culture. The centre cost Australia $137 million and accommodates up to 290 people. Forty refugees a month will follow the initial 10 inductions.  

The first 10 refugee visa entrants include an accountant, an engineer, watch maker and jeweller, which Minister Pato told the ABC will contribute to Papua New Guinea’s workforce.  

Australia’s Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has praised the decision, describing it as a key milestone in the resettlement of refugees.

Despite the more inclusive take, there is still trepidation among refugees following the announcement. The incident at the Manus detention centre in February when Reza Barati, a young asylum seeker from Iran was brutally killed in a riot, has added to the refugees’ reluctance.  

Minister Pato has assured otherwise.

“We have the resources, the police are empowered, the local staff are empowered and the facility is well secured and manned,” he said in an ABC report. “They will have temporary visas for an initial period of 12 months called the refugee visa. The visa will entitle them to move about Lorengau town and generally be absorbed in activities in the community.”

No policy has yet been announced in executing the new refugee visa strategy. 

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