PNG to give citizenship for West Papuan refugees

November 6, 2014

For the first time in history, the Papua New Guinea government has pledged to give full citizenship to the more than 10,000 West Papuan refugees living in the country. Whilst referring to the refugees, PNG’s Foreign Minister, Rimbink Pato has said that they will be issued with a PNG passport or a certificate of identity. This is a true landmark event for the refugees as in 50 years most of them have not been granted PNG citizenship and many of those who have, had previously been made to pay a 10,000 Kina fee. 

Free West Papua Campaign founder Benny Wenda with West Papuan refugees at Waigani refugee camp in Port Moresby

Free West Papua Campaign founder Benny Wenda with West Papuan refugees at Waigani refugee camp in Port Moresby

Many thanks for the granting of citizenship

PNG citizenship is desperately needed for the thousands of West Papuan refugees in the country, many of whom suffer in poverty and are at risk of forced extraction back to West Papua. We fully welcome and give thanks for these very supportive comments from the Foreign Minister who has said that over the next 12 months West Papuan refugees will be granted this citizenship and that the (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) will assist in helping this to be facilitated.

Our brothers and sisters in Papua New Guinea have always shown strong hospitality for West Papuan refugees and we are extremely happy now that the government also has shown that it wants to give them full citizenship. Free West Papua Campaign-Papua New Guinea Coordinator, Mr Fred Mambrasar was recently interviewed about this new government plan for the refugees by Radio Australia’s Tok Pisin service. You can listen to this interview here. Fred said he and other West Papuan refugees are extremely happy with this initiative and that they would like to thank Prime Minister O’Neil’s government for helping it to happen.

He also said that the PNG government is consistently showing more and more support for West Papuans and their struggle for freedom and that when he gets PNG citizenship it will strengthen him more to struggle for a Free West Papua.

Now that West Papuan refugees are to be given citizenship, they will be able to study, work and travel overseas; making it much easier for them to live in safety and to help to raise moral and political support for West Papua to be free.