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PNG - New Zealand Direct Negotiation for Refugees resettlement

The Refugee Council of Australia says there is room for Papua New Guinea to directly deal with New Zealand in resettlement efforts for the remaining refugees in the country.

Since 2013, New Zealand has offered to assist Australia resettle 150 refugees from PNG and Nauru annually.

However, Australia has pushed aside the assistance, citing claims that refugees would risk leaving New Zealand for Australia.

Two top ranking officers of the Council were in the country for the first time, and met with PNG’s Foreign Affairs Minister and stakeholders in addressing the plight of the remaining refugees.

Chief Executive Officer Paul Power told NBC News, that PNG can take a more leading role as a sovereign nation, and not be dictated by Australia.

“Really Papua New Guinea doesn’t owe Australia anything at all.

"New Zealand and the United States have made really generous offers that Australia doesn’t deserve, I mean the Refugees deserve that offer.

"As close allies of Australia, they are intervening to protect refugees that Australia is harming.

“So I think there’s definitely scope for PNG and New Zealand to deal directly, I mean the Australian Government whenever we raise concerns about things that are happening in PNG and Nauru – they’re very quick to say ‘oh well they’re sovereign nations, you need to take it up with PNG and Nauru,’” Mr. Power said.

President of the Refugee Council of Australia Phil Glendenning says there is a need for Australia to be a better neighbor and friend to PNG with regard to the Regional Resettlement deal.

Mr. Glendenning says so far, Australia's handling of the Manus deal has been nothing short of 'shameful' and 'appalling.'

“We’d like to see Australia join the neighborhood and behave better than we have.

“At the recent Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu, Australia was correctly condemned for behavior and tactics of being a bully.

“As Australians, we want that to stop - and one of the ways we can measure that is to deliver a just outcome to this people now that we’re looking for a solution,” Mr. Glendenning said.

There are close to 300 refugees still in PNG with many housed in lodges and motels in Port Moresby.

The end of this year will mark six years since the refugees, mostly men, have been in detention in PNG.

NBC News / PNG Today

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