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  • Ephraim Bavi

CBC Migrants and Refugees Desk commemorates World Refugee Day

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Gordons, Port Moresby: The world refugee day was held on the 20th of June 2023 at the Limana Vocational Center for Education.

With the theme Hope Away from Home, the event was a fitting reflection of the Catholic Bishops Conference Desk for Migrant’s and Refugees work in this field with the long neglected West Papuan refugees in PNG. More than 250 people attended the event, including West Papuan refugees in Port Moresby, some students from UPNG, staff from Limana Vocational, CBC General Secretary Fr. Giorgio Licini, and other CBC staff members.

The program which started at 10am and finished at 1pm, saw speeches given by Channelle Taoi form UNHCR, Herber Santos from IOM, Winis Map DCMO of PNGICA and Fr. Giorgo CBC Secretary General. Invitations for the World Refugee Day was sent to different refugee groups within PNG but the only group that came were the West Papuan Refugees attended.

Invitations were also sent to High Schools within Port Moresby for the purpose of educating students on issues and challenges that refugees within Papua New Guinea are facing and how the Government, the international community and international organizations that deal with issues relating refugees. Apart from High School students, we also had a couple of UPNG students who volunteered to participate in the event. Most of the students who attended were not aware of the situation of refugees within PNG and them participating in the event was something new for them to learn. They also had the chance to meet with the West Papuan Refugees and the guests to ask questions regarding refugees.

Held on the 20th of June every year, the World Refugee Day is designated by the United Nations and is recognized and celebrated throughout the world. In Papua New Guinea, the event was hosted by the Catholic Bishops Conference through the Desk of Migrants and Refugees and Caritas PNG. It was the second time CBC hosted this event, the first was in 2020.

The event was held to commemorate the strength and resilience of refugees, especially here in PNG as they continue the struggle to establish normal and dignified lives. Apart from speeches and dance interludes from the West Papuan dances, part of the program allowed for the people to mingle and chat with the speakers, while children did paintings. Smiles and stories were shared on the day to individuals who wanted to know about the West Papuan Refugees. Knowing that more is needed to be done by the government of Papua New Guinea regarding issues related to refugees, the West Papuan refugees came in huge numbers from different camps around Port Moresby to make themselves known and to commemorate the day.

Through the hosting of the World Refugee Day, the Catholic Bishops Conference through the Desk of Migrants and Refugees has shown its stance on assisting Migrants and Refugees within the country by working closely with different international organizations and the Government of Papua New Guinea to come up with strategies, programs, and activities to help these group of people.

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