20 Jun 2003

UNHCR to discuss Papua bordercrossers with PNG government

10:51 am on 20 June 2003

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says it will discuss with the Papua New Guinea government the status of the Papuans who fled Indonesia in 2000 because of escalating violence.

Earlier this year, 109 out of the 400 bordercrossers in PNG's Sandaun province were granted refugee status while the rest, fearing persecution from pro-Jakarta forces, are refusing to return to Indonesia.

All 400 are living in a Catholic Church run camp in the Sandaun township of Vanimo.

UNHCR's Pacific Regional representative, Michel Garbaudan says the 109 Papuan refugees must be moved away from the border and if they refuse they'll forfeit their status.

And Mr Garbaudan says he will discuss with the PNG government the status of the remaining bordercrossers.

"Not the Refugee Convention but certainly a lot of the jurisprudence developed since the Refugee Convention was adopted, caused the government to contemplate the possibility of granting what we call additional forms of protection, for these persons."

Mr Garbaudan says the PNG government is currently looking over a draft domestic refugee law.

The PNG government ratified the UN Convention on Refugees in 1986.