More threats to relocate refugees in Port Moresby into poverty

| October 2, 2019 | Reply

After being transferred from Manus to hotels in Port Moresby, refugees’ living conditions and safety are now under threat.

Refugees presently living in the Granville Motel have been told that their living allowance of 100 kina (approx. $A50) a week will be cut off unless they “agree” to ‘move into residential accommodation’.

JDA, the company responsible for refugee services (and also under investigation by the National Audit Office for contract abuses) circulated ‘expression of interest’ forms (see here) on Tuesday. But one day later, refugees are being told their weekly allowance will be cut off as soon as this Friday, unless they agree to move.

But there are no details of the residential accommodation, or what provisions are being made for their safety, or their future. Nor is there information on who will pay for rent, water and electricity, or transport. It is impossible to survive on 100 kina a week in Port Moresby.

There has already been an attempt to house refugees in the suburbs of Port Moresby. But they have all failed, terribly. At present, the hotels accommodating the refugees are guarded. But in the suburbs there is no security. The refugees who tried to live in one residential district, Morata, are now destitute and have all been bashed and robbed more than once by locals armed with guns or knives.

It is not safe to go the shops. And it costs 30 kina by taxi each way (there is no other way to travel safely) to get from Morata to the Pacific International Hospital (PIH) the only place refugees can get medical treatment or medications dispensed. That does leave much out of 100 kina a week.

“Port Moresby is more dangerous than Manus Island,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “Immigration must lift the threat of cutting off income support to force refugees to move. This is another short-sighted proposal that puts refugee lives in danger that does nothing to provide them with a secure future after more than six years of mistreatment in offshore detention.”

Meanwhile, concerns are growing for the welfare of the 53 asylum seekers being held incommunicado in the high security Bomana detention centre. There has been no contact and no information since they were detained. UNHCR and Red Cross have been denied access to the centre. There is no phone access, and despite visiting forms being circulated no visits have been approved. At least two of the asylum seekers from Bomana detention have been hospitalised in PIH.

“The denial of constitutional rights to a lawyer was one of the reasons the PNG Supreme Court found detention on Manus was unlawful,” said Ian Rintoul, “PNG is repeating the same mistakes it made agreeing to open the Manus detention centre in 2013; the conditions of detention in the Bomana detention are making a mockery of any commitment the government has to human rights.”

For more information, contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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Category: Press releases

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