Refugees celebrate day

The National,Friday June 24th, 2016

Refugees in Manus celebrated World Refugee Day  on Wednesday with locals in their hope to live freely without persecution.
They took part in planting trees, sports, cooking, a photo exhibition and mingled with the locals at the East Lorengau Transit Centre.
Popular musician and PNG refugee ambassador Anslom Nakikus performed hits from his collection of songs to add to the atmosphere.
A senior PNG Immigration officer said the celebration was to commemorate refugees fleeing persecution in their country to find peace and a better life elsewhere.
“The focus on this year’s celebration is on advocacy and awareness on our part as  to why there are refugees and how to accommodate them in our communities,” he said.
The officer said the country had an obligation as a signatory to the 1951 United Nations (UN) Convention to look after refugees fleeing their country.
“PNG, especially Manus, has been providing refuge for asylum seekers since the 1960s when the first West Papuan refugees from Indonesia fled persecution from their government across the PNG-Indonesian border and were brought here,” he said.
“We have over 800 asylum seekers mainly from the Middle East who have also fled their respective countries.
“They are also accommodated here as part of our UN obligation in looking after refugees.”