8 Dec 2010

UNHCR hopes PNG squatters are allowed to save possessions before eviction

8:48 pm on 8 December 2010

The PNG office for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says squatters facing eviction in Port Moresby should be given the chance to save their belongings before bulldozers destroy their homes.

Up to 800 squatters, including West Papuan refugees, were last week evicted from a section between the capital's 8-Mile and 9-Mile settlements which is owned by a former MP, Sir Pita Lus, who wants to develop the land.

A court challenge to the eviction last June delayed the process but Sir Pita has now sent in heavy machinery to clear crops and homes.

The UNHCR's Walpurga Englbrecht hopes the hundreds of squatters who continue to live there can still be helped.

"That the lawyers from both sides come to an agreement and particularly allow the people now, after they have seen that they have to move, at least to be able to save what they can, what belongs to them, that housing is not being destroyed, but they can actually dismantle their housing themselves and then can establish it where ever in future it will be."

Walpurga Englbrecht