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Resettlement for Papuan refugees

Monday 21 March 2016 | Published in Regional

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Papua New Guinea is resettling hundreds of asylum seekers from neighbouring West Papua as part of its deal with Australia to host the Manus Island detention centre.

As part of that arrangement, the PNG Government was required to resolve the plight of West Papuan asylum seekers – people who fled the lengthy conflict over the Indonesian border.

Papuans who have waited up to 30 years for recognition have said they are getting a raw deal compared to asylum seekers from the Middle East.

West Papuan Simon Auri has spent the past 20 years sleeping in his car in PNG.

“I am a man, not an animal, but I have to live in a car,” he said.

Martha Horota, another West Papuan, lives in a house in Port Moresby with about 50 other people.

“It’s filthy around here, it’s not healthy to have 50 people living in a place like this,” she said.

Two of the people living in the house have jobs, while the others support their families by selling vegetables and fish in street markets.

The PNG Government estimates about 10,000 West Papuans live in Papua New Guinea.

More than 1000 of them have applied for PNG citizenship. Most of those are living in camps on the PNG-Indonesia border, but some are in the capital Port Moresby.

The PNG government said it would issue those who have applied with citizenship certificates by the middle of the year.

West Papuans who have applied for citizenship do not expect their lives to change significantly, but they think the Australian government could help with some basic services.

One of the asylum seekers, Matthew Akari, said West Papuans in PNG were not getting the same treatment as those at the Manus Island detention centre.

“They treat asylum seekers in Manus better than asylum seekers from West Papua,” he said, adding that the West Papuans needed help with the basics: “Land, housing, water, light, education, health.” - ABC