Earlier this year, riots at the Regional Processing Centre on Manus put a strain on the PNG-Australia relationship, and caused a wave of public dissent over the issue.
Since then, steps have been taken, to ensure there is no repeat of such a riot, and that transferees seeking asylum, are more aware, of the process it takes, for them to find a new country of residence.
In an interview for EMTV’s Tok Piksa program, Head of Mission of Australia to PNG, Deborah Stokes, says the deterrent of being held in centres off Australian Shores, is paying dividends.
“Big steps have been taken to address that, and a lot of communication has gone through to the transferees about what the process is, and PNG itself has developed its own capacity for the processing, and taken a lot of steps in that direction, so a lot of people have had their intial interviews, and preliminary decisions have been taken, for transferees, so they know whether they are a refugee or not…and the fact that we have seen and more than 300 have chosen to go home voluntarily, so numbers have declined.”
According to High Commissioner Stokes, there is also a policy being worked on, that points to the settling of some of these tranferees, in PNG.
“We are looking forward to Papua New Guinea making some decisions about the settlement policy, and we recognise that this is a new development – its developing its policies for refugee settlement. The PNG Government has immigration agency (that) has formulated a policy for resettlement. And that’s where that policy stands right now.”
The full interview with the Australian High Commissioner is featured on tonight’s Tok Piksa Program, at 7.30pm.