More refugees leave PNG shores

A further nine refugees have departed Papua New Guinea for the United States under the US resettlement program.

Minister for Immigration and Border Security, Petrus Thomas, said resettlement is a key step in the lives of refugees and one of the three durable solutions which are promoted and recognized by the UNHCR.

Minister Petrus Thomas said the departure of this latest group was a significant milestone in delivering on the expectations of Prime Minister James Marape that the regional processing caseload be resolved quickly.

The departure of the nine individuals now sees a total of 269 refugees depart PNG for resettlement in the United States.

There are now 261 refugees left in PNG’s East Lorengau Transit Centre in Manus.

With many more refugees currently progressing through the resettlement process, the minister for Immigration and Border Security is confident that the number will continue to decrease significantly over the coming weeks.

Despite the clear decrease in refugees remaining in PNG, Minister Thomas remains resolute in the expectations he has on the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Authority (ICA) to pursue every avenue for resolution of the regional processing caseload and the ultimate cessation of arrangements in Manus Province.

He has directed the Chief Migration Officer (CMO) to explore all options to quickly and effectively end all operations in Manus.

And CMO Solomon Kantha has already briefed the minister on a suite of options that will deliver on the expectations of the Prime Minister and continue to meet PNG's international obligations.

Minister Thomas further added that it remains incumbent on individuals to engage with the options that are provided to them and to make the personal decisions that will enable them to move on with their lives.

He also reminded those who have been found not to be owed protection, that they must depart PNG voluntarily and within the financial support that is available to them.

Sally Pokiton