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By Staff Reporter : PNG Today

PNG Government welcomes US decision to take 54 asylum seekers

The Papua New Guinea Government has welcomed the approval by the United States to resettle some refugees from Manus, and hopes more cases are resolved before the closure of the centre next month.

A United States Department official confirmed that a “first group” of 54 refugees had been approved and would travel to the US in the coming weeks, and more should be resettled in the coming months. An agreement was struck last year with the Obama administration.

The Manus regional processing centre will be closed on Oct 31 in compliance with a PNG Supreme Court ruling last year that the detention of asylum seekers on the island was in breach of the PNG constitution.

A PNG Government spokesman told The National that the process involving the settlement of refugees in the US had been underway for some time.

“In broader terms, we (Government) look forward to seeing other individual asylum-seeker cases advanced, particularly ahead of the closure of the Manus regional processing centre,” he said.

“Ultimately, the intent of the Manus centre was to do our part to put an end to people smuggling in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Kurdish-Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani currently held at the Manus centre welcomed the US government decision.

Boochani called on the US and Australia to specify a time frame for sending people to America.

“Their (Australia’s) plan is to close Manus detention centre by the end of October and until now, they could not because the refugees have resisted and refused to leave the detention centre and go to East Lorengau,” Boochani said.

There are 730 refugees on Manus and 1053 on Nauru at the end of August, according to the Australian government.

Many of the refugees have been on Manus since 2012 after PNG and the Kevin Rudd-led Labor government signed an agreement to process their cases at the Manus centre.

Meanwhile, PNG Police want to take over the Manus refugee centre when it closes next month, according to Police Commissioner Gari Baki.

He said he wants to set up a New Guinea Islands regional police training centre there.

Baki said the police needed more officers in view of the increasing population and to avoid situations where officers were outnumbered in violent situations.

“That is why the constabulary will bid for the East Lorengau refugee training centre when it closes next month,” Baki said.

“The constabulary will be tendering for the centre as a government agency.”

He hopes to have more regional police training centres around he country.

Baki said police on Manus were helping with the relocation of refugees from the refugee centre.

The regional asylum detention centre and the East Lorengau refugee training centre will cease operations on Oct 31.  The centre has six buildings and can cater for up to 300 people.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS/PNG Today

Posted by Staff Reporter : PNG Today on 2:01 PM. Filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Share this Article

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