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Asians, PNG citizens search for better life on opposite sides

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, July 13, 2009) – Asians are crossing illegally into PNG in broad daylight and Papua New Guineans are crossing the international border into Indonesia in search of schooling, jobs and other economic benefits, a senior Government said yesterday.

Forest Minister Mr. Belden Namah said there were also reports of serious border incursions along an unmanned international border by Indonesian troops, a cause for serious concern.

In relation to Papua New Guineans crossing into Indonesia, Mr. Namah said people were moving in search of jobs, for schooling and other opportunities to improve their lives.

Indonesia is improving its infrastructure and other development projects are taking place and that is attracting Papua New Guineans across in droves.

"It is a very difficult situation when you call and call and it falls on deaf ears, "Namah said in relation to his attempts to get the Government to improve border security and surveillance and to increase funding for infrastructure and economic projects along the border.

Namah said the border crossing had led to confusion over the identities and nationality of person caught along the border as recently seen when a 15-year-old boy from Skotso village in Sandaun was shot along the border.

Namah said the police and PNG Defence Force were ill-equipped to patrol and provide effective surveillance over the border area.

"They (soldiers) do not have vehicles. There are no funds to buy vehicles but the Commander (of PNGDF) has enough funds to take his wife on overseas trips," Namah calimed.

"More attention should be placed on the border provinces of Western and Sandaun province.

"Western has PNG Sustainable Development Program but Sandaun does not have anything."

Using the recently established Border Development Authority and the funds given it, Namah intends to increase surveillance and to establish agro-forestry projects in his Vanimo-Green River electorate which extends to the international border.

In relation to illegal border crossing into PNG he said: "They do not need to come in containers any more. They just breathe fresh air and cross the border into PNG in broad daylight."Lack of surveillance leaves a lot of room for Asians to cross into PNG at the border."

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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