By Serah Aupong – EM TV News, Port Moresby
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Rimbink Pato, has been forced to defend the concept and establishment of the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre.
This was done through a statement released today, in which Pato also gave an update on the number of asylum seekers already granted refugee status in Papua New Guinea.
So far, 361 asylum seekers have been granted refugee status in PNG, and over 600 more are being processed by the PNG I’migration and Citizenship Service Authority.
While the statement is not clear on where exactly the refugees will be settled, the national government will support them with language and cultural orientation training, and with temporary accommodation.
The Australian government is supporting these refugees.
For West Papuan refugees, the Minister said the authority is reviewing over 1,000 claims by West Papuans in East Awin, Kiunga and Port Moresby. That sits separate from West Papuan refugees already being granted citizenship.
Since the idea of the processing centre was brought to light, along with supporters, there have been a lot of criticisms both in the country and overseas.
Minister Pato said PNG’s role in processing asylum seekers comes under its obligation to the 1951 Convention of the Status of Refugees.