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Refugees encouraged to uphold Dignity


-       Nigel Akuani


Port Moresby: “Refugees are not any different from you and I, and deserve just as much respect and dignity like every other person,” said Honourable Garry Juffa, Governor of Oro Province.


The governor made the statement during the 2020 World Refugee Day, commemorated by Caritas PNG on Saturday 20th June, at the Limana Vocational Centre, Gordons.


The occasion had Mr Juffa as its keynote speaker, and other special guests that  included Mr Lance Bonneau, Chief of Mission of the International Organisation for Migration; Mr Kedar Poudyal, Human Rights Adviser from the UN Office of the High Commission of Human Rights; Rev Fr Giorgio Licini PIME, General Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference (CBCPNGSI); West Papuan Refugees from Hohola, Rainbow and Waigani, Staff of CBC and Immigration; Staff and students from Limana Vocational School.


In his keynote address Governor Juffa commanded the efforts of Caritas PNG and the Catholic Bishops Conference and reassured that the issues affecting refugee resettlement would be raised on the floor of parliament. He urged for West Papuan communities especially the younger generation to take full advantage of opportunities presented.


He implored from the local population empathy and hospitality toward all those who were seeking asylum. “For us Melanesians it is in our culture and custom to accept people and share what we have with them, and we are also told to practice it by the word of God,” he stated. 


Ms Mavis Tito, Director of Caritas PNG, stated that the organisation's mandate is to be the voice of the poor, vulnerable and marginalised and will continue advocating for refugees in PNG. “Caritas PNG will continue to provide support where it can through advocacy, scholarships and immediate relief assistance,” she said.


Mr Bonneau clarified how the term ‘refugee’ was not a name but a word that referred to the circumstance of a person or group of people due to their situation. He urged for people seeking refuge to rise, speak up and act to enable support to be given. 


Mr Bas Fairio, spokesperson for the refugees, stressed the importance of education and urged young West Papuan individuals living in PNG to embrace it and make a change for the betterment of their people.

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