Ministers’ PNG agenda should include meeting refugee responsibilities

Ministers’ PNG agenda should include meeting refugee responsibilities

Media Release
Asylum seekers

The seven-Minister Australian delegation visiting Papua New Guinea for a high-level forum on issues such as security, law-and-order and trade provides a perfect opportunity to resolve the situation of the fifty refugees languishing in Port Moresby since their transfer from the Australian-run Manus Island detention facility in 2017. 

‘Living in uncertain, often unsafe, circumstances, many of these folk are seriously ill and should be brought to Australia urgently for appropriate medical care,’ said St Vincent de Paul Society National President, Mark Gaetani. 

‘Their wellbeing is solely Australia’s responsibility because we moved them to PNG, against their will, over a decade ago. Since then, their human rights have been denied. 

‘Now abandoned by Australia in Port Moresby, these folk have been without work and proper support, relying on donations from Australian charities, refugee support groups and generous individuals.

‘They continue to live in limbo, uncertain about what each day will bring. Some of them are too afraid to even leave home. Eviction from their sub-standard accommodation is a constant threat, and without help from donations they would have no food or other necessities.’   

Mr Gaetani said the Australian delegation to PNG should arrange for the refugees to be given the option of transferring to Australia while awaiting resettlement.  

‘Living in the Australian community would enable them to access services they have long been denied. To have the opportunity to at least start to rebuild their lives. Literally to begin to feel human again. 

‘Our government, represented at senior levels by those visiting PNG, acts as if these people are out of sight and out of mind. Australia’s neglect is a disgrace. 

‘The “Port Moresby solution” is another ugly phase of the offshore detention program that has tarnished Australia’s reputation as a fair-minded, compassionate country. St Vincent de Paul Society urges the Ministers to take steps to resolve it once and for all. 

‘In the words of Pope Francis, those who left their homelands, often out of fear, have engaged in “journeys of hope”, and it is so unfair that these should end in such misery. Let us open our hearts and do the right and just thing for those in need.’ 

The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia consists of 45,000 members and volunteers who operate on the ground through over 1,000 groups located in local communities across the country.


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