Fifty Asylum Seekers In PNG Declared Genuine Refugees

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Successful applicants to be moved from detention to integration facility

By Alexander Rheeney

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 16, 2014) – Fifty asylum seekers at the Australian-funded Manus Regional Processing Centre have been categorised as "genuine refugees" and will be moved out of the facility as part of their integration into the wider community.

Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato made the announcement yesterday in the company of his Australian colleague Julie Bishop as they wrapped up the 23rd Papua New Guinea-Australia Ministerial Forum in Port Moresby.

The one-day summit between the two neighbouring countries covered a broad range of issues from the Manus Regional Processing Centre, training bureaucrats through a new school of government, the 2018 APEC Summit and the efforts of both governments to restore services in Bougainville.

"The resettlement of refugees’ arrangement is working very well; it is going full speed on every front. It is reviewable each year and the understanding is that our technical people will work through the issues to make sure that it is better, more refined to achieve the outcomes that we want to achieve," said Mr Pato.

"And I just announced today that I have approved up to 50 persons who have been determined as genuine refugees for settlement purposes and that means that effectively these 50 people will be moved away from the centre and they will be transited to the East Lorengau centre, which is a special purpose-built facility for asylum seekers on their way to integration."

Mr Pato indicated that those whose applications were successful will have to wait for the development of a policy framework for the resettlement of refugees by the PNG Government, which would pave the way for them to be resettled.

On the proposed "school of government", Ms Bishop said it would be a joint collaboration between the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG), the Institute of Public Administration and the Australian National University (ANU) to train local bureaucrats.

The forum also discussed the 2018 APEC Summit and how Australia could support PNG as well as developments in the autonomous region of Bougainville, which Ms Bishop will visit today.

The Australian delegation was led by Ms Bishop and comprised Ministers Scott Morrison (immigration), Michael Keenan (justice), Senator David Johnston (defence) and Federal MP Jane Prentice.

Mr Pato led PNG and was joined by the Charles Abel (national planning), Sir Puka Temu (public service), Ano Pala (justice and attorney general) and Richard Maru (trade, commerce and industry).

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