West Papuans to be granted citizenship

The Papua New Guinea Government is supporting the West Papuan refugees by granting them citizenship enabling them to attain the same rights as Papua New Guineans.

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Rimbink Pato said Regional Resettlement Arrangement (RRA) refugees have a different level of need because they have arrived more recently and come from a non-Melanesian background.  

He said the Citizenship Advisory Committee will be meeting soon to deliberate on more than 1,000 West Papuan refugees who have been registered in East Awin, Kiunga, and Port Moresby.

Meanwhile, Pato said that in 1986 Papua New Guinea acceded to the 1951 Convention of the Status of Refugees and its related 1967 Protocol.

He said PNG has an international obligation to provide humanitarian protection to refugees.

“Papua New Guinea has a long history of protecting Melanesian refugees and more recently has also welcomed non-Melanesian refugees — including those who arrived independently and those who have been processed here under regional arrangements.”

PNG first hosted a Regional Processing Centre for asylum seekers between 2001 and 2006.

This was reopened in 2012.

In 2015 there were more than 55 million people of concern to the UNHCR and every day more than 40,000 people flee war and persecution around the world.

Pato said PNG is a leader amongst Pacific nations in seeking to address this global issue