PNG secret deal leaves refugees without food vouchers, income or transport

Following on from cuts to electricity and threats of eviction, PNG refugees this week have been left without food vouchers and allowances.

Phone calls to the service provider Namora, who is responsible for the payments, have not been answered. PNG Immigration issued a notice that the transportation service that allowed refugees to travel safely in Port Moresby will also be cut from Friday 13 October (see notice here). Before the transport service, refugees routinely faced robbery and assault when they left their accommodation.

Refugees have also been told that because of funding cuts PIH, the refugee medical provider, has already sacked several doctors and will terminate mental health services for refugees at the end of the year.

Despite assurances last week from PNG’s Chief Migration Officer, Stanis Hulahua, that services and support to refugees would be guaranteed, nothing has changed; refugee service providers remain unpaid and refugees are still required to pay for electricity, gas and WiFi.

But without their food vouchers and allowances their situation is even more uncertain and precarious. PNG CMO is demanding Australia provide more funding for the secret deal.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil admitted on ABC TV’s 7.30 program that the Labor government last provided funds, under the deal, in July 2022. But O’Neil is yet to provide an explanation of where the money has gone. Refugee service providers are claiming they are owed millions of dollars.

It is understood that PNG Immigration met with Australian Home Affairs officers in Port Moresby yesterday (Tuesday 10 October). But today, refugee transport has been cut.

“The secret deal has meant there is no accountability for funds that were meant to be used to support refugee services,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “Clare O’Neil has consistently denied Australia has any responsibility for refugees in Port Moresby, but it is now clear that Australia has been funding the program all along. The secret deal has been a fig leaf that has allowed the funds to be rorted, while Australia turned a blind eye to refugees they sent offshore.”

“O’Neil can end the rorts and provide the safety and support the refugees need by immediately arranging for the refugees to be brought to Australia.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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