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  • Abigail Seta

A call for solidarity and resettlement

Gordons, Port Moresby: The Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, has made a call for solidarity and resettlement of all Afghan refugees who still remain in PNG, Nauru, Australia and the general Asia Pacific region.

This call was made on Wednesday, 25th August in light of the unfolding situation in Afghanistan that is causing major displacement within the country, as well as compelling many Afghans, to seek refuge across the region.

Speaking at the press conference were Mr Jason Siwat, Migrants & Refugees Desk, CBC PNGSI; Zabihullah Hussaini, Afghan Refugee in Port Moresby and Mr Stanis Hulahau, Chief Migration Officer, PNG Immigration and Citizenship Authority.

According to the media statement presented by Mr Siwat, there are about 20 Afghan refugees in Port Moresby, most of whom left behind family members when they departed in 2013.

“These refugees need our support, both in kind and in prayers as they think about the lives and freedoms of those they left back in Afghanistan. Nations in the Asia Pacific region ought to be alert to this humanitarian crisis. Regional leaders, such as Australia and New Zealand, must help with the refugee influx by creating a special humanitarian program to provide a safe passage out of Afghanistan for those at risk of serious harm.”

“We also echo the call by the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network for all parties responsible for this situation, to comply with international humanitarian law and human rights, to endeavor for an immediate and peaceful resolution to end the ongoing conflict and restore peace and safety.

“We call on everyone to join the efforts of restoration of peace through prayer. Let us pray for God’s help and sanctuary upon those who are suffering and afflicted. We also call on governments, civil and corporate organizations, and individual families to extend a helping hand wherever in the world you find Afghan refugees among your midst, including in Papua New Guinea. In this difficult time, we stand with Afghan refugees and prepare to support them the best way we could. Irrespective of any differences, we are all called to love one another and show compassion.”

Sharing his sentiments on a refugee’s dilemma, life on the run and an appeal to pray for Afghanistan was Zabihullah, an Afghan refugee who has been in PNG for 8 years.

“It has been 8 years in PNG, and we have a lot of good and bad memories. We face a lot of problems and right now most of us are mentally and physically sick, especially with Afghanistan being controlled by Taliban. Most of us have lost contact within the last 3 weeks and we don’t know how they are,” Zabihullah said.

“We are hoping that the PNG and US government can help us to resettle and I also want to say please pray for Afghanistan.”

Mr Hulahau spoke on PNG Immigration perspective on refugees in PNG specifically on Afghanistan under the Regional Resettlement Arrangements (RRA) and the 20 Afghan refugees in the country.

“They are going through a challenging time because of the situation in their own country and not being able to communicate with their families is distressful. The organization that I represent is committed to look at how we can work together with this particular group of people to see how we can find durable solutions for them,” he stated.

Following the panel was a question-and-answer session open to the media and those in the audience to ask.

Present for the occasion were journalists from various media organisations, refugees in Port Moresby, Commission Secretaries and staff of CBCPNGSI.

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