25 Jun 2010

UNHCR urges integration of West Papuan refugees in PNG

2:22 pm on 25 June 2010

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says that almost 10,000 refugees from Indonesia's Papua region need to integrate into Papua new Guinea communities and be granted PNG citizenship.

The Post Courier newspaper reports that the UNHCR representative in PNG, Walpurga Englbrecht, made the comment at the recent World Refugee Day celebrations.

Ms Englbrecht said the UNHCR is working with the PNG Government and civil society to find solutions for refugees.

She said with voluntary repatriation opportunities being limited, the importance of refugees being able to integrate locally and resettle in third countries is even greater.

There are about 9,700 West Papuan refugees and 19 non-Melanesian refugees and asylum seekers in PNG.

PNG's Foreign Minister, Sam Abal, says 5,500 of the initial 15,000 border crossers who entered from neighbouring Indonesia in 1984 were repatriated voluntarily with the assistance of the UNHCR and Indonesia.