Port Moresby (Agenzia Fides) - Offer asylum seekers the status of "refugee" and ensure "safe and humane conditions" to those who arrive as immigrants in their countries: is what the Bishops of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands say to the Government of Papua and the Australian government in a statement released while the issue of refugees still shake the nations of Oceania.
Last week the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O'Neill, said that most of the more than a thousand asylum seekers - of many nationalities, mostly Asians - who are now in the detention Center on the island of Manus are not "real refugees" and they will be repatriated "within weeks". The detainees went on a "hunger strike" for a few days to protest against the government's plans.
In the note sent to Fides, signed by Fr. Victor Roche, SVD Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference, the Bishops ask "not to force asylum seekers to return to their country if they are unsure" and "to provide them safe and human conditions"
In recent months, the Bishops had asked institutions, "a truly human response" to the phenomenon of those fleeing from danger or conflict in countries of origin. When the detention Center on the island of Manus was reopened, in the context of an agreement with the Australian government, the Bishops said it was unfair, according to the Constitution of Papua, "to bring in our country and imprison people who have not violated our laws", inviting to seek "a solution worthy of a great nation, respectful of human rights". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 03/02/2015)