16 May 2002

UNHCR and PNG to process asylumseekers from Indonesia

4:42 pm on 16 May 2002

The UNHCR and the Papua New Guinea government have reached a agreement to process asylum applications lodged by hundreds of people from the Indonesian province of Papua.

The bordercrossers fled separatist violence in late 2000 and were left in the care of the Catholic church in Vanimo.

Late last year, a deal was struck between PNG and Indonesia to return the bordercrossers as the PNG government consistently refused to deal with their applications.

But the UNHCR told it that they should be processed and a UNHCR spokeswoman in Australia, Marissa Bandarangshi, says a deal has now been reached.

"The PNG government will be conducting refugee status determination for this group with UNHCR support and for those who are not refugees we will assist the Papua New Guinean government to repatriate them"

Marissa Bandarangshi of the UNHCR