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PNG Government endorses National Refugee Policy

The National Executive Council has recently endorsed the National Refugee Policy. Prime Minister Hon. Peter O’Neill, CMG, MP, said in accordance with National Executive Council Decision 11/2014 of 22 January 2014, the Immigration and Citizenship Services Authority (ICSA) has developed a National Refugee Policy which the Cabinet has endorsed.

“Cabinet has directed the Immigration and Citizenship Services Authority to coordinate implementation of the National Refugee Policy and ensure that all future asylum seeker and refugee arrangements comply with it,” PM O’Neill said. He said the policy incorporates feedback from national consultations conducted by the ICSA in March 2015 and recommendations from the 2015 Expert Panel report on
the Resettlement of Refugees in PNG.

PM O’Neill said the policy does not distinguish between West Papuan, spontaneously arriving refugees, or refugees transferred to PNG under the Regional Resettlement Arrangement with Australia.
“The policy covers all refugees equally,” he said. “The ultimate objective of the policy is that people cease to be refugees, After 8 years residence, and satisfaction of other criteria, refugees are eligible to apply to become PNG Citizens.

“Cabinet has also directed relevant Minister(s) to introduce a Bill to Parliament to ratify Papua New Guinea’s withdrawal of reservations to the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees before the end of 2015.”
PM O’Neill said Cabinet further directed the ICSA to proceed with the implementation of current commitments, including:

i. Regularizing the status of West Papuan asylum seekers and refugees;
ii. Settlement of refugees under the Regional Resettlement Arrangement with
Australia; and
iii. Processing and identification of a durable solution for spontaneously
arrived refugees.

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