Refugees will not pose threat to security, O’Neill assures

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The National, Wednesday July 24th, 2013

 PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill has dismissed potential security threats to Papua New Guinea by refugees who resettle in the country.

Asked about negative reactions by Papua New Guineans towards the refugees, culture clashes, and security threats by Muslim extremists who may be among the refugees, O’Neill said there was nothing to be worried about. He said PNG was a Christian country that should practice Christian principles.

“I think these fears are unfounded,” he told reporters on Monday.

“We call ourselves a very Christian country. What did Christ ask us to do? Be compassionate, help those people who are needy. Isn’t that what he preaches?

“So let us start being realistic about things that we signed up to. We are a signatory to the United Nations Refugee Convention. Let us be realistic. We call ourselves a Christian country, we must behave like Christians.”

O’Neill said the refugees would not be given priority over Papua New Guineans in essential areas like health and education.

“We are not giving priority to    anybody,” he said.

“There is nothing in the agreement that says refugees will get priority over our citizens. These fears are unfounded.

“And, of course, as we don’t know the numbers (of refugees) as yet. I don’t think the numbers will be as big as we think.

“As you can see from reports, smugglers who are profiting from this exercise, have already said that they are going to stop the boat people travelling.

“You can see that genuine people will travel, but non-genuine migrants will fall off, and the numbers will be much lower than what we are thinking.”