10 Apr 2003

PNG provincial administrator urges decision on Papuan bordercrossers

4:11 pm on 10 April 2003

The administrator of Papua New Guinea's Sandaun province is calling on the government to fast track its deliberation on the status of the Papuan Bordercrossers.

Joe Sungi says the bordercrossers do not want to go back to Indonesia and that the government must decide what to do with them.

Mr Sungi says they're a drain on provincial resources and he suggests that they be relocated elsewhere.

He says government plans to repatriate the Papuans last month were postponed indefinitely because of interference by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and Vanimo's Catholic Bishop.

Mr Sungi says the bordercrosser issues must be sorted out quickly.

"UNHCR together with the Catholic church they probably were not satisfied with the way the interview was conducted to identify those that were genuine refugees and those that were just border crossers. I haven't really got any instruction from Port Moresby and we're just hoping that national government will come up with a set date to continue the repatriation or exchange status from crossers to refugees"

Joe Sungi.

The PNG government has granted 30 out of the 400 Papuans who fled Indonesia in 2000 to escape military crackdowns against separatist supporters refugee status.

The bordercrossers are under the care of the Vanimo Catholic Mission.