IRIAN JAYA REFUGEES CAN APPLY FOR PNG RESIDENCY

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By Winis Map

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea ( November 23, 1997)---Refugees from the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya who reside in camps in neighboring Papua New Guinea now can apply for PNG residency, the Post Courier newspaper reports.

PNG Foreign Minister Kilroy Genia last week announced that the Papua New Guinea government has approved the issuance of application forms for refugees applying for permissive residency.

The move to grant residency status to eligible refugees comes after the revised policy to permit Irian Jaya refugees to integrate into PNG society was approved by the National Executive Council during May 1996.

Most of the refugees fled their home country after the major political uprising in the 1980s that was staged by the indigenous people of Irian Jaya against Indonesian rule. Many Irian Jayans took refuge in the northern PNG town of Vanimo, but later, between 1985 and 1986, were relocated to East Awin Camp in Western Province.

Application forms will be distributed at East Awin Camp this week by a team comprised of PNG national government officials and representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner of Refuges (UNHCR) in Canberra, Australia.

The revised policy will allow Irian Jayan refugees who wish to remain in PNG to take up permissive residency after meeting certain conditions, but all will remain free to voluntarily return to Indonesia.

Those who are granted permissive residency status can also relocate anywhere in PNG and, after a qualifying period, apply for naturalized citizenship. However, all refugees wanting to apply for residency status who now live in other parts of Papua New Guinea must first move to East Awin Camp and reside there for six months before becoming eligible to change their residency status.

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