PNG refugees in dire straits as services and safety cut

A farcical statement from the PNG Chief Migration Officer, Stannis Hulahau, issued yesterday, 25 October (available here) has left refugees bewildered.

In part, the statement says ‘these interruptions [to serrvcies] are temporary in nature’, but the ‘temporary interruptions’ have been going on for months. Refugee can’t wait for days or weeks for vital services to be restored. 

Medical services provided by the Pacific International Hospital are now required to be paid for by the refugees. But as service providers have failed to to pay refugees’ income allowances, the refugees’ lifeline to medical services at PIH is effectively cut. 

Chronically ill refugees rely on PIH for weekly medications. 

Transport services, that kept refugees safe from robbery and assault has also been cut, meaning refugees leaving their accommodation are at risk. Security at some accommodation blocks have also been cut leaving refugees vulnerable to attack.  

With income allowances cut, refugees are unable to pay for electricity; some have been living in the dark for days without power for lights, cooking or air-conditioning. Others have been left waiting weeks for food vouchers. 

Service providers are not answering refugees calls for help (see screenshot from PNG refugee on 24 October. Service provider, Namora, has also been named in the recent corruption allegations put to PNG police.) 

Hulahau’s assurances that the interruptions ‘will be resolved in the very near future’ are not credible. Hulahau, himself, faces allegations of skimming funds from the Refugee Resettlement Program. 

 In any case, the refugees can’t wait.

“It seems clear that Morrison’s secret deal has facilitated corrupt behaviour. Now refugees are in dire straits. By maintaining the deal, Labor, hopes to avoid scrutiny and its responsibility for the refugees they sent to PNG in 2013,”  said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition. 

“Home Affairs’ officials evaded questions regarding the secret PNG deal in Senate estimates hearings this week. But refugee’s can’t wait. The only way the refugees will get the services and safety they need is for the refugessd to be urgently brought to Australia.” 

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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