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  • Donatus Nahak & Jason Siwat

International Refugee Law for People on the Move

Port Moresby: Two staff of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands (CBCPNGSI) were honored to take part in a short course on International Refugee Law (IRL), coordinated by the Centre for Migration and Refugee Studies (CMRS) of The American University in Cairo (AUC), Egypt.

The one-week program was facilitated via zoom and attended by students from different parts of the World. As part of its capacity building program, the intensive 5-day online course ran from 23rd - 27th May 2021. Mr Donatus Nahak, Refugee Resettlement Officer, was sponsored by Caritas Papua New Guinea, whilst Mr Jason Siwat, Director of the Migrants and Refugee Desk, by Quaker Services Australia.

The course, which targets people working with refugees or those interested in refugees’ issues, introduces the participants to the international legal framework and the broader institutional regime which governs the protection of refugees.

Officiating the commencement of the program, Course Instructor Mr Martin Jones offered insights into what the course encompassed. He also acknowledged the sacrifice of the participants across the globe to make efforts to attend the course despite the time zone differences, including Papua New Guinea (PNG), where class was from 6pm-12am.

Mr. Jones urged the participants to maintain contact and network for further engagement of necessary capacity building on people on the move.

Reflecting on the course and speaking on behalf of People on the Move CPNG CBCPNGSI, Mr Nahak, said that through this training he is more informed and guided to advocate and raise the issues of displaced communities in PNG and Solomon Islands. “We are so privileged with the opportunity given by CPNG & CBCPNGSI. We found out that through this online course we are now capable of identifying the displaced communities legally according to IRL in line with national laws of the hosting countries and the lives of displaced communities in PNGSI whom we support, and assist on humanitarian basis,” he said.

He added that, “all people, including people on the move, and PNG citizens have an obligation to share our contribution with our friends and others who support and assist the displaced communities in their respective diocese, especially our diocese at the borders”.

Mr Nahak said People on the Move CPNG CBCPNGSI, hoped for more capacity building for staff and for there to be the involvement of various stakeholders including professional academicians and other service providers to assist and support the office in the country. “One of the programs would be the international legal framework. “We have large numbers of people who are always on the move after being displaced and left as vulnerable communities due to manmade and natural disasters in the country. Internally Displaced People (IDP), Asylum seekers, Refugees, and Migrants are communities that CPNG CBCPNGSI has supported before and during the Covid-19 SOE lockdown,” he stated.

He admitted that despite the preexisting challenges of Covid-19 and other logistical issues, participants were committed to attend the IRL online course for the five days.

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