PNG MP warns about refugee integration

2:59 pm on 9 February 2016

The MP for Manus Open in Papua New Guinea Ronnie Knight has again warned of growing social problems around the presence of refugees in the community.

Asylum seekers in Manus Island centre protesting  against resettlement plans

Asylum seekers in Manus Island centre protesting against resettlement plans Photo: Supplied by Refugee Action Coalition

About 80 refugees processed at the Australian-run asylum seeker processing centre on Manus Island were last year moved into a second accomodation facility in Lorengau which is a transit facility as they wait for resttlement in PNG.

More than 300 other asylum seekers have recently been confirmed as refugees and offered re-settlement, according to the government.

But Mr Knight said it remained uncertain where the refugees would be resettled.

He said those in the transit facility - which allows access to the local community - had fallen to alcoholism and drug use, and impregnated some local women, which could be problematic.

"Unless these people want to end up in the bush picking sago and fishing for their livelihood at a subsistence level - which they will never survive - they're not going to live in Manus. They have to move on next. And I believe there's going to be another 300-plus released into the community. And that will make matters much, much worse."

Mr Knight said there was increasing unease about the behaviours of refugees in the local community.

He said the government assured him that no refugees would be resettled in Manus but it remained uncertain where they would go.

"And we're just waiting for.. what's the next step, where are they going - are they gonig to go to Lae or Moresby or Madang or whatever the situation is, but it has to be done quickly. We can't have people hanging around there. You see them every day in Manus, just walking around, involved in the local markets, involved with the young boys drinking homebrew, and they're not even hiding it's, it's blatant."

Mr Knight warned there would be trouble if local people felt the refugees were infringing on resources or customs meant structly for the local community.