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June 25, 2021
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Speaking Beyond Borders

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By Lillian Keneqa – EMTV News, Port Moresby

With the Asylum seekers on Manus making headlines in PNG over the last couple of months, many have not heard of the other refugees living in Port Moresby. In a strange case that neither the Government nor the assisting Non-Government Organisations want to comment on, there are 16 immigrants who have been living in the nation’s capital under the title of refugee for over 4 years.

For the first time five of them shared their struggles and the suspense of waiting for their cases to be determined for settlement in another country, which has aggravated their trauma all the more.

For over four years, 16 refugees have been living in Port Moresby, however, they have not been heard of and how they arrived in PNG is still unknown. Secretary for Communications and Youth, Fr Ambrose Pereira, stated:
“They are funded by Australia so the same rules apply but they are not known.”

Brought in by International Organisation for Migration (IOM), their journey to Port Moresby is not the same as the refugees on Manus.
As the years progressed, the suspense of waiting for their cases to be determined for settlement in another country aggravates their trauma even more.

Fr Ambrose said, “Australia would want you to come in through the proper channel if you come in on any other way then they will put you in detention. So they were sent to PNG but six years is a long time.”

The 16 are from different countries: Pakistan, West Africa, Sudan and Central Africa – their stories involved a very important decision: either risk long imprisonment, even death or abandon their beloved country, family and friends in order to find safety and freedom in another country.

A refugee, from Central Africa, fled his country to escape war. He told of how he missed his daughter. If he got free, he will bring his daughter to the country he resettles in. “Please I need your help,” was his plea.

At the moment, these refugees are under IOM; although not much is known about these refugees. In an email to IOM requesting comment about the 16 refugees, the Chief of Mission responded:

“IOM is providing care and maintenance support for these individuals at the request of the Government. This includes the provision of basic accommodation and daily living support while they await the outcome of their cases. IOM has no involvement in the actual processing of their refugee claims and or assistance in finding another settlement country. This falls under the responsibility of the PNG Government. I am afraid IOM has no information on the processing timelines and thus is not in a position to comment on the government led process.”

Fr Ambrose says “If you are there six years with nothing to do, then defiantly you are mentally affected. And it is sad that we have to put them onto a slow death.”

EMTV has contacted Immigrations but is yet to receive a response.

 

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