Boatload of Vietnamese Held By PNG Customs In Wewak

admin's picture

Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

15 men believed to be asylum seekers

By Gabriel Fito

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 19, 2015) – A boat-load of Vietnamese boat people, believed to be asylum seekers, is being held by police and Customs Service in Wewak.

The 15 men had indicated that they left Vietnam more than three weeks ago.

Customs officers returning to town after their routine inward clearance of a logging vessel saw the foreign vessel outside Wewak Yacht Club.

They decided to check the vessel and discovered 11 men onboard. The officers tried to communicate with the foreigners but they did not understand English.

The officers managed to communicate through sign language and found that four members of the group had gone ashore to seek medical help at Wewak General Hospital.

The captain of the boat showed on the map that they had travelled from Vietnam to the Caroline Islands, north of PNG, and finally Wewak, a journey which took 24 days.

Communication difficulty is preventing Customs from establishing why the Vietnamese called into Wewak, but it has been established that they had a sick man onboard.

Police were called and a thorough search was conducted. The boat was well stocked with rice, water bottles, cans of beer and cigarettes.

Police and Customs officials took the group to the hospital for a check-up, but were advised by health officials to quarantine them on board for a medical team to check them. However, one had been diagnosed with "pyelonephritis" or problem with the bladder and had been admitted at Wewak General Hospital.

Provincial police commander Chief Inspector Peter Philip visited the foreigners on their boat late yesterday afternoon but again could not speak to anyone.

Mr Philip said the Vietnamese did not have valid documents like passports or visas to enter PNG and will be arrested and charged with illegal entry.

Customs office in Wewak said that immigration officers and a translator from Port Moresby will travel to Wewak today to assist with their investigation.

Police are keeping watch on the men on the boat and at the hospital.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment