22 Aug 2002

Decision on fate on Vanimo border crossers expected soon

4:35 pm on 22 August 2002

The Papua New Guinea Government has begun processing the applications for refugee status lodged by the Papuan bordercrossers in Vanimo province two years ago.

Father Tomi Thomas from the Vanimo Catholic Diocese, which have been sheltering the Papuans, says officials from the PNG government and United Nations Refugee agency began interviewing the bordercrossers two weeks ago.

The Papuans crossed the PNG/Indonesian border into the PNG province of Vanimo after a military crackdown in December 2000.

Ever since, the Papuans have been classed as bordercrossers because of the PNG government's reluctance to grant them refugee status because of its diplomatic ties with Indonesia.

Father Thomas says its expected that the PNG government will make decide the fate of the Papuans soon.

"They came over here, and they made the investigation and they questioned each one, and that process of investigation was over just two weeks ago, to finalise who really deserve the charges of the refugees and who really didn't deserve it."

Father Tomi Thomas who says the Papuans are living in Vanimo peacefully and that there are no plans by either the PNG or Indonesian governments to force them back over the border.