Treat refugees with respect, says UN rep

National, Normal

The National – Monday, June 20, 2011

REFUGEES should be treated with respect and must be able to receive fair treatment from others around them, a United Nations representative said.
Walpurga Englbrecht, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ country representative, was speaking yesterday at the World Refugee Day commemorations in Port Moresby.
She said refugees who fled their country for better lives and hopes in another country, “bring with them their skills and talents that could be useful in the host country”.
“Refugees are persons who do not have another choice than to flee their countries for different reasons such as political opinions, have another religion or belong to a different ethnic or social group,” she said.
She said PNG had been generous in hosting 9,700 West Papuan refugees and some non-Melanesian refugees and asylum-seekers and many of them would like to have a future in PNG.
“Therefore, it is vital to create an environment that facilitates their local integration and allows them to become self-reliant, including gran­ting of PNG citizenship to those who opt for it,” Englbrecht said.
She said 43 million people around the world  are refugees and the World Refugee Day was used to raise awareness of refugee issues by a shining light on people displaced around the world and calling for solidarity, respect, compassion and empathy. The small though significant event was attended by mostly West Papuan refugees living around Port Moresby and creative arts students from the University of Papua New Guinea, among others. The theme for the Day is: “One refugee without hope is too many”.
There were photo exhibition, refugee quizzes and paintings on show.
The photo exhibition will remain open for two months as part of the national museum’s educational programme. It will be opened to the public and schools.