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Monday 11 April 2016 | Published in Regional


PAPUA NEW GUINEA – There are no plans to close the Manus Island Regional Processing Centre, Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Rimbink Pato has announced.

The refugees and non-refugees at the Manus Regional Processing Centre would be accommodated separately from June 6, he said.

Determined refugees will be assisted in finding work, others will be sent home.

Pato said this after revealing that the government has completed refugee status assessments for all asylum seekers at the processing centre.

He said that all refugees will be assisted to find work and start a new life in PNG while non-refugees will be assisted to return home, in line with international practice and PNG law.

“This is an important milestone in these arrangements,” the minister said.

“Immigration officials have been working long and hard to process these applications as quickly and fairly as possible. I applaud their commitment, dedication and thoroughness,” he added.

Pato said that asylum seekers who are given negative assessments can have that assessment reviewed by a panel of independent refugee law experts.

He said that under PNG law he personally considers each assessment and review recommendation prior to making a final refugee status determination.

“I expect to finalise all of these refugee status determinations by June 30,” he said, adding that it will remain operational for as long as it is required.

“However, its purpose is for refugee processing, it is not designed or intended for people to stay there indefinitely. We want people to move on with their lives.”

Pato said that these people should be thinking about their future. Refugees are not detained, they can leave the centre as soon as they like, he added.

- Post-Courier