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Thursday 28 January 2016 | Published in Regional

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PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea’s Foreign Minister says the government has completed processing the cases of 97 per cent of the asylum seekers at the Manus Island detention centre.

The newspaper, The National, reports Rimbink Pato saying a total of 361 refugees living at the centre were offered settlements. It’s unclear where the refugees will be settled.

According to the minister, the PNG Immigration Citizenship Services Authority is assessing 642 claims of asylum status.

Under the Regional Resettlement Agreement which PNG’s government signed with Australia in 2013, any unauthorised maritime arrival entering Australian waters would be sent to Manus for processing and resettlement in PNG or another participating state.

However to date none of those found to be refugees have been resettled.

Pato this week said that all the refugees would be assisted to be self-reliant as quickly as possible, depending on their needs and that this may include language and culture orientation training and temporary accommodation.

He said that those who were assessed and found not to be not refugees, would leave PNG in accordance with the Migration Act, adding that they may need some assistance to re-establish themselves in their home country which they earlier fled.

Meanwhile, the minister has also announced that the Citizen Advisory Committee will meet to consider refugee claims of 1000 West Papuans who have been registered in Western Province PNG after fleeing Indonesia. - RNZI