GABRIEL FITO and GYNNIE KERO
MORE than 300 West Papuans living in Papua New Guinea were repatriated to Jayapura last week under a joint programme organised by the governments of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
In the first leg of this exercise, Indonesian Air Force C130 aircraft uplifted a total of 142 men, women and
children out of Wewak’s Boram Airport last Thursday to Indonesia.
Those boarded the Aircraft were from Manus, Bulolo, Goroka, Lae, Madang and Wewak.
The second trip out of Port Moresby saw another 170 Papuans from the Southern Region and Lae leaving on Sunday.
Four older people flew from Lae to add the numbers to the group that flew out of Port Moresby, as they were unable to travel by road to Madang, then by ship to Wewak.
Others that travelled out from Port Moresby were from Kiunga and Daru, while the rest were from the NCD and Central province.
PNG Foreign Affairs officials, who were in Wewak to coordinate the exercise, said the West Papuans volunteered to be repatriated .
They said more than 700 were listed for the exercise, however, only 312 decided to leave while others decided to remain in PNG.
The programme, funded by the Indonesian government, was to repatriate West Papuans who were willing to return to their country of origin where they would enjoy an improved standard of living.
Roby Merauje, a West Papuan, said he was willing to go home but was still uncertain about his future.
He said they volunteered to return to Jayapura because of the better living conditions.