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PNG bishop condemns Australia's 'Pacific solution'

The Catholic bishop whose diocese covers the Australian-funded asylum seeker processing facility in Papua New Guinea has condemned Australia's Pacific solution policy.

Bishop Ambrose Kiapseni said the policy of bringing asylum seekers to PNG's remote Manus Island navy base was "immoral", and he said it fuelled prostitution and the drug trade.

He said PNG should be dealing with its own refugee problems in West Papua, rather than bowing-down to those of number one aid donor Australia.

The Bishop's sentiments echo that of a growing number of Papua New Guineans who feel Australia has forced their impoverished country to do its dirty work.

"Let there be no more boat people brought to PNG, it is immoral," Bishop Kiapseni said in a statement.

"Why are we keeping people innocent of any wrongdoing in PNG behind barbed wire? "Is our neighbour and benefactor holding the very sharp aid assistance sword over our heads? Meaning, given the amount of aid from Australia to PNG, our government has no choice other than to accept the boat people.

"We cannot say thank you to the people of Australia for their government's latest 'gift' to us."

Catholic Church of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands
Jesuit Seminar urges Govt to forget 'illegal' Pacific solution (18/3/02)

20 Mar 2002