13 Mar 2003

Relief at PNG government postponement of repatriation

8:40 am on 13 March 2003

Papuan border crossers say they're relieved they will no longer be repatriated to Indonesia from Papua New Guinea today.

A spokesperson for the Catholic Church's Justice and Peace office in Vanimo says the mood in the camp remains sombre because the repatriation has only been postponed, not abandoned.

Samson Mesambe says the 272 Papuans, who have been living in the camp for the last couple of years, do not want to be sent back to Papua.

Mr Mesambe says the Papuans are putting their hope in their appeal to the Foreign Affairs ministry to reconsider a decision to reject their application for refugee status.

"I think it's the discretion of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Papua New Guinea....anything to do with the review of the decision is in the hands of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and that's where the buck stops....He's the one who will be making a decision on that matter."

Only six families out of more than 100 were granted refugee status.

Mr Mesambe says they've also not been told how long the repatriation has been delayed for.