Church pleads for asylum seekers

The Catholic Church in PNG is calling on the Australian Government to consider taking in refugees from Manus.

Speaking on behalf of the Church, general secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and Solomon Islands, Fr Victor Roche, says a well-off country like Australia should show compassion and welcome some of the refugees.

Fr Victor was recently in Manus where he was allowed into the Lombrum naval base.

He experienced firsthand how the remaining 300-plus asylum seekers were managing themselves after the closure.

“There is no running water to drink, cook or bathe. They have dug 4 or 5 water wells within the camp. They use them for drinking. Although it is a little salty, it is drinkable.

“There is no electricity. But they run a small generator for one or two hours a day for charging their cell phones. Most of them have very expensive smart phones and they keep up with the latest news through internet.

“There is no food supply. But they have grouped themselves according to nationalities: Iranians, Pakistanis, Sudanese, Sri Lankans etc. They bring in food at odd hours and cook whenever convenient.

“They all share what they have,” said Fr Victor.

The Catholic Bishops Conference has made the following recommendations:

  1.  The Government of PNG to give food and water to the remaining refugees in Lombrum as short term help; dialogue with the Government of New Zealand to take the remaining refugees for long term settlement
  2. The government of Australia to allow NZ government to accept the refugees as generously proposed by its prime minister
  3. The people of Australia to raise their voice together to help these voiceless refugees find a safe home
Meredith Kuusa