The National – Tuesday, February 8, 2011
THE West Papua issue is very sensitive and measures are being taken to address the refugees’ situation, national security advisory committee chairman Manasupe Zurenuoc said yesterday,
He said in a statement that Operation Sunset Merona currently underway in West Sepik was on track, as scheduled, and had achieved most of its planned activities.
Zurenuoc said the West Papuan issue was sensitive and all necessary measures were being taken to address the refugees’ situation within the international human rights laws.
“We have set procedures in place to follow and our people are ensuring that all laws and conventions are being adhered to when dealing with West Papuan refugees.”
He said this was being done with close consultations with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
“So far, there are 114 West Papuans at the detention centre in Vanimo, some of whom have permissive residency permits, while others do not.
“Those living with permissive residency permits (PRP) have entered the country legally. They can live in places other than border provinces such as West Sepik or Manus.”
Zurenuoc said the refugees would be processed accordingly and those found to be involved in illegal activities would be dealt with under our laws.
“As soon as the logistics are in place, the refugees will be airlifted to Kiunga and onto UNHCR’s East Awin refugee camp.”
He said food and water to the Vanimo detention centre was being supplied by the Vanimo Catholic mission while the PNGDF medical team was attending to the sick.
Meanwhile, joint task force commander Jerry Frank said five officers from the labour department had joined the combined government team currently on the ground.
“Their involvement in the operation is important as most cases involved breach of our labour laws and customs and immigration regulations by foreigners,” Frank said.