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Papua New Guinea villagers the new refugee victims

Staff Reporter 7/21/2013 | |
GIDEON Mahiro is one of about 3000 whose home is in line to be bulldozed to make way for a new refugee processing centre.
His shanty town, opposite the airport in Port Moresby, has been identified as a potential new site where genuine asylum seekers would be resettled in Papua New Guinea under the deal.
The 47-year-old electrician, a father-of-seven, sees brutal irony in his family being dispossessed of their tiny shack to make way for boatpeople out of Manus Island detention centre.

"It is a big headache," said Mr Mahiro, who trained for his trade at TAFE in Queensland.
One of the Botai children at the village. Picture: Brian Cassey
"If the government wants to bulldoze us out of our homes, they can do it without a humanitarian thought," said Mr Mahiro, of the ATS settlement.
"They will send armed police in to forcibly evict us, they will raze this entire township to the ground, and me and my children, and thousands of others will be left without anywhere to live."

He paints a bleak picture of law and order, high unemployment and a desperate housing shortages in the nation's capital.

"I'm educated, middle-class, but this is a very expensive, dangerous, and difficult place to make a living.
"I think the PNG government has taken the big carrot of billions in aid funding, hoping the boatpeople will not come."

In the stilt-house shacks of Amuabada, across the water from the gleaming high-rises and hillside mansions of the city, nowhere is the contrast between those with money and those without so stark.
"We don't want to become a dumping ground for refugees," said lifelong resident Virobo Uaki, 56.
"I don't think they want to be dumped here either."
Most of the 7 million-strong population are illiterate but are overwhelmingly a Christian, smiling, warm-hearted, softly-spoken people.
But lawlessness in the city centres is a brutal reality. Car jackings, rape, theft and murder add to a soaring crime rate.

Violence and robbery, often random and opportunistic, is particularly targeted at minority ethnic groups, like Chinese, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan.
"This is a hellish place for us," said bakery store worker Atik Mdatik, 26.
"It is worse than dog-eat-dog. They think all foreigners have money, so they attack, steal and kill." His family came out from Bangladesh last year but after a female relative was gang-raped by a mob on the street, the women and children were sent home.
"Here if you are an outsider, you are a target," he said.


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