PNG Refugee Protection in the International Context

Wars, conflicts and persecution have forced more people than at any other time since records began to flee their homes and seek refuge and safety elsewhere, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The number of people forcibly displaced at the end of 2015 had risen to a staggering 60 million compared to 50 million a year earlier and 37 million a decade ago. Globally, one in every 122 humans is now either a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum.

PNG, as a leader amongst Pacific nations is seeking to address this global issue and has an international obligation to provide humanitarian protection to refugees. In 1986 PNG acceded to the 1951 Convention of the Status of Refugees and its related 1967 Protocol.

The country has a long history of protecting Melanesian refugees from the Papua province of Indonesia. West Papuan refugees, being the oldest cohort in PNG, have received protection here since 1963. According to the Government estimates, there are more than 10,000 refugees currently living in PNG. More recently the country has also welcomed non-Melanesian refugees – including those who arrived independently and those who have been processed here under regional arrangements.