PNG Government to probe refugee bills

Pacific refugee camp

Local businesses which provided services for refugees under the PNG Humanitarian Programme (PHP) must be paid, says Prime Minister James Marape.

Under the PHP, refugees have been living in apartments and receiving K1,084 (US$290) as allowance and a K650 (US$174) voucher for groceries.

All their medical treatments are being done at the Pacific International Hospital, with transportation and security provided.

Service providers who have not received any payments for services rendered since November wrote to Chief Migration Officer Stanis Hulahau last week, warning that they would stop providing services unless the outstanding bills were paid.

Marape said Deputy Prime Minister John Rosso was looking into the matter.

“The question is: who will pay them? Because there was money allocated to pay for their services. How much and to whom it was paid to is the question.”

Marape said the 63 refugees remaining in the country would not be kicked out.

“Papua New Guinea is a Melanesian country and we will not kick out people seeking refuge,” he said.

“I will be meeting Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Sydney next month and this is something that will be on the agenda, to discuss the future of the refugees who came into the country (10) years ago, and establish how much money was allocated to the services providers and who it was paid to.”

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister John Rosso authorised an investigation shortly after a whistle blower inside PNG Immigration and Citizenship Authority made allegations of corruption, fraud and nepotism, into the management of the Australian taxpayers’ money earmarked for the upkeep of refugees under the programme. Rosso, also responsible for immigration and border security, said that serious allegations by the whistleblower, separate complaints by other parties, local, and international media coverage on it, and the undertaking by the Australian Government to investigate the programme, required the Government to carry out “our own audit into the arrangement.”