PNG IMMIGRATION AGENCY SPEEDS CHURCH APPLICATIONS

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Church groups often mistreated

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 5, 2008) – Foreign Minister Sam Abal recently appealed to the officers of the Papua New Guinea Immigration and Citizenship Services to treat applications for passports and other applications from churches differently than others.

During the announcement of the new executive of the service Mr Abal made the appeal, saying this was because the development and charity work they were doing was enormous.

He said many times these organisations were mistreated and not given the treatment they deserved.

Because of this, Mr Abal announced yesterday more than 1000 passports had been released to the Catholic Bishops conference for the World Youth Cross event in Sydney.

He also announced priority attention had been given to all Pacific Prayer Assembly pilgrims attending the annual event in Hawaii next month.

Mr Abal said the Immigration and Citizenship Service was giving priority to the applications for travel documents by pilgrims attending the World Youth Day in Sydney and the annual all Pacific Prayer Assembly in Hawaii.

"As both events take place in July this year, passport applications readily identified with these two events have already been processed and released with the exception of a few yet to be processed," Mr Abal said. "A few applications have been delayed as they were either incomplete or lodged separately outside of the agreed procedures but these are being attended to and processed."

Mr Abal said the PNGICS was also giving equal attention to the applications for travel documents from the general public and emergency travel.

However, he appealed to the churches throughout the country to communicate with PNGICS and to indicate the cut-off dates for lodgment for this category of travellers as applications for travel documents were still coming from other provinces.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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