West Papuan refugees in PNG urged to register

8:26 pm on 7 November 2017

West Papuan refugees in Papua New Guinea are being urged by the country's authorities to register for citizenship.

This week PNG's Immigation and Citizenship Service Authority appealed to all West Papuans living in the Niugini islands region to get in contact.

Rainbow settlement in Port moresby, Papua New Guinea, where West Papuan refugees have squatted for years.

Rainbow settlement in Port moresby, Papua New Guinea, where West Papuan refugees have squatted for years. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

It's the latest stage in a project to register and formalise the status of all West Papuan refugees in PNG which has been underway almost three years.

There are an estimated 10,000 of the refugees living in PNG, most of whom fled from neighbouring Indonesia in a mass exodus in 1984.

Many of the refugees live in remote parts of PNG such as Western Province, the porous province abutting PNG's border with Indonesia's Papua region

As part of its project to update its database and register the refugees, the Authority has already covered Southern and Momase regions.

To date, over a thousand West Papuans have been granted PNG citizenship.

The authority is now trying to register as many West Papuans as possible in the Islands region, which includes Manus province where a number of the refugees have lived for four decades or more.

According to a spokesperson from the Authority, once refugees make contact for registration, they can then obtain citizenship.

Before 2014, the fee for West Papuans seeking PNG citizenship was 10,000 kina, but the government has since made it free for this group of people.

Citizenship status allows the refugees to have full rights and access to public swervices as other Papua New Guineans.

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