West Papuan refugees either currently have no formal documentation or hold quasi-official “permissive residence permits”. This lack of formal status has hampered most of them from achieving their full potential. The Government is seeking to address this by providing them citizenship, which will enable them to have the same rights, responsibilities, identity documentation, and legal status as other Papua New Guineans.
The Government of PNG is undertaking a major nation-wide Naturalisation and Registration Project to regularise the status of West Papuan refugees. The project is in line with the Government of PNG’s highest commitment to extend the best possible support and services to its citizens/residents by providing formal identity documents. ICSA has registered more than 2721 West Papuans in Western Province by the end of 2015. It is expected that over the next 2 years all West Papuans in PNG will be registered and provided the opportunity to apply for PNG citizenship.
The West Papuan refugees, as a result of citizenship, will be able to vote, study, work, travel overseas, and avail health, education, and financial services. The government has further waived off PGK 10,000 Citizen Application Fee for the West Papuan refugees. The Citizenship Advisory Committee (CAC) of PNG will be meeting soon to deliberate on 1112 applications received in East Awin, Kiunga, and Port Moresby.