13 May 2004

Official criticises PNG policy towards border crossers

10:53 am on 13 May 2004

A provincial administrator is biting back at the national government of Papua New Guinea for its new policy regarding border crossers.

Police are reporting increased numbers of West Papuans crossing the border into PNG to set up camp at Vanimo and claim refugee status.

It comes soon after the government allowed 3-hundred border crossers to relocate to East Awin camp in Western Province, after which they would be allowed to apply for permissive residency in any part of PNG with the exception of border regions.

But the administrator for Sandaun province, Joseph Sungi, who's based in Vanimo, says the government's move sets a bad precedent.

"From the provincial point of view, we'd like to see the decision and the move to allow any of that arrangement, I think it should be stopped, or if it started, it has to be done with a lot of caution, and also to be aware of the implications, the negative implications it will have on our people."

Joseph Sungi says most of the people who come across the border from Jayapura in West Papua come indirectly to Vanimo by boat under cover of darkness.

He says the administration has no capacity to track these border crossers