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Pope Francis with the sculpture dedicated to migrants and refugees in St Peter’s Square at the Vatican (Vatican Media)

The St Vincent de Paul Society says Pope Francis’s planned visit to Papua New Guinea in August could help resolve “the dire situation” of refugees still held in Port Moresby under a deal the Australian and PNG governments have both kept under wraps. Source: National Indigenous Times.

Vinnies national president Mark Gaetani said that as “one of the world’s most prominent advocates for the welfare of refugees and asylum seekers”, Pope Francis will “no doubt be well aware of the plight of these refugees in PNG”.

“We hope that long before His Holiness arrives these long-suffering people will have been brought to Australia for proper humanitarian care. If not, we hope he will be given the opportunity to see some of the appalling conditions in which they are still living,” he said.

“Our position aligns with that of the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and the Solomon Islands which, in December, asked the Australian Government (in a letter to Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil) to end these people’s suffering and bring them to Australia urgently.”

Mr Gaetani said the refugees are living in unsanitary conditions, lacking food, electricity and health care, with no official financial support, and that security in Port Moresby has deteriorated since rioting last month.

“St Vincent de Paul Society has long advocated for fair treatment for these refugees, many of whom are now accompanied by family members, including two newborns,” Mr Gaetani said.

Mr Gaetani noted that PNG Prime Minister James Marape’s upcoming visit to Canberra offered another opportunity to resolve “the unacceptable situation” affecting the refugees left by the Australian Government in his country.


Pope’s PNG visit can shine light on refugee plight (By Giovanni Torre, National Indigenous Times)