Clare O’Neil lets PNG refugee kids go hungry

Inaction by the Australian government is leaving refugee families destitute. Despite promises from the PNG Immigration minister that the problem would be fixed, refugees still have no food vouchers, income, or access to medical help.

Families have run out of food for their children; refugees have been left without electricity because they do not have the money to keep it connected. Electricity in Port Moresby costs up to $150 a week. Even drinking water has to be bought.

Some money has been raised by friends and supporters in Australia for the last week, but it is nowhere near enough to buy sufficient food and keep the power on for the 62 refugees and their families still in limbo in PNG. Despite efforts to raise more money, there is no money to even provide food vouchers for this coming week.

While no refugees have been evicted, service providers have still not been paid by PNG Immigration, and the threat made in a letter last week remains. One of the refugee families was told by the CEO of their accommodation provider, MRT, to “move out” and added, “I can close all the accommodation anytime.”

“Clare O’Neil must urgently provide the money needed to guarantee that refugees have the services that they need to survive. There are two new babies to be supported,” said Ian Rintoul, spokesperson for the Refugee Action Coalition, “We know there have been meetings between Home Affairs and PNG Immigration, but nothing has come of them.”

While PNG and Australia argue the toss about who is responsible for the refugees’ welfare, service providers are not being paid and refugees in PNG are facing increasingly desperate circumstances.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” said Rintoul, “Labor is spending over $400 million to keep Nauru open as an offshore detention facility. But they have found nothing to support the refugees they sent to PNG in 2013.”

For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713

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