15 May 2009

PNG to repatriate 700 Indonesians

2:42 pm on 15 May 2009

Papua New Guinea has agreed to repatriate 700 West Papuans to neighbouring Indonesia.

The Jakarta Post reports that PNG's Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare reached the agreement in a meeting with the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the World Ocean Conference and Coral Triangle Initiative Summit in Manado.

The newspaper quoted a Presidential spokesperson saying the 708 "migrants" to be returned were mostly from the provinces of Papua and West Papua.

He says that they have expressed willingness to voluntarily come back to Indonesia and officials from both countries are working to facilitate the repatriation.

The meeting was also attended by Indonesian Military commander General Djoko Santoso.

Military numbers in Indonesia's Papua region have swelled recently, particularly on the PNG border, coinciding with a wave of violence around last month's Indonesian elections.

Whole villages of undocumented migrants from Indonesia line the PNG side of the border.

Many are traditional migrants but others have fled the unstable conditions of the restive province with no intention of returning.