Concerns over processing of West Papuan refugees

By Quinton Alomp – EM TV, Port Moresby


Concerns have been raised on the processing times of West Papuan refugees with questions asked on why the Australian asylum seekers are being processed quicker than the West Papuans who have been in the country for longer.

Some West Papuans have been living as refugees in PNG for over a decade, and have yet to receive their citizenship.

Asylum seekers and transferees who were brought in by Australia and detained at the Manus Lombrum detention centre were processed in less than a year.

But PNG Immigration officials has said that the two groups are not under the same arrangement.

Departmenty Chief Immigration Officer, Esther Gaegaming said the asylum seekers and transferees were under the Regional Resettlement Arrangement (RRA), in partnership with the Australian government while the West Papuans are not included in this arrangement.

In October, the government reconsidered giving citizenship to West Papuans, however for only those who have lived in PNG for more than eight years, and were registered as refugees.

It is understood that the PNG Immigration is looking at ways to address this issue.

Early this week, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister, Rimbink Pato, declared that 50 asylum seekers at the Manus detention centre were recognized as “genuine asylums.”

Yesterday, Australia’s Immigration and Border Protection Minister, Scott Morrison, opened the new transit facility in East Lorengau that will house the 50 genuine asylums.

However, the ‘genuine asylums’ will not move elsewhere, until PNG Immigration officials complete their visas and other required documents.

Manus Governor, Charlie Benjamin welcomes the new developments in the province but is still dissatisfied with how the national government is allocating funds to the province.

The Manus asylum deal has come under much controversy in its initial stage and despite new developments the Australian government is implementing, the local people are highly critical of certain activities concerning the detention centre.

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