More Than 30 Asylum Seekers Stuck On Yap, FSM For A Year

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

Group from India, Nepal being looked after by church

By Maria Hernandez

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Dec. 20, 2015) – A group of more than 30 asylum seekers from India and Nepal have taken refuge in Yap since late last year and are still detained there today, said Karemeno Ifa, a pastor at Seventh-day Adventist church in Yap.

Their supplies are dwindling, Ifa said.

Seeking a better life

The 34 men arrived on Colonia in Yap, about 500 miles southwest of Guam, after setting sail with the goal of escaping political conflict in their countries, Ifa said.

"They want to seek a place where they can be comforted," he said.

The men, who arrived on the island in November 2014, had possibly intended to sail to Australia, Ifa said, but drifted toward Yap.

Living without power

They lacked food and water when they arrived and some didn’t have identification.

While they at first were allowed to venture freely around the island, after about two months, they were advised to stay near the port where they had landed and are still being detained there today, Ifa said.

The island has provided free water for the men to shower, but they live without electricity under a roofless structure and use the same dirty blankets, Ifa said.

"When it rains, it comes down on them," Ifa said. "They don’t have enough food. Food is scarce."

Ifa, who was visiting Guam for a meeting with local members of Seventh-day Adventist, informed the Pacific Daily News of the refugees in hopes the island would band together to donate supplies.

"Yapese, their heart(s) (are) big. They want to give," Ifa said. "But they cannot give if they can’t afford to give."

Seeking donations

Ifa said his church donated food items such as rice, canned meat, chicken and flour, but the church doesn’t have enough resources to sustain them on a regular basis.

Yap’s assistant attorney general, who is heading the case, didn’t respond to calls and an email as of press time.

Residents who would like to donate essential items, such as laundry soap, body soap, toothpaste, canned food, tarp and blankets, can bring them to the Joy FM radio station on Chalan Palasyo behind Simply Food Restaurant in Agana Heights.

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