Reach out to the ‘cast offs’

In preparation for the Salesian General Chapter 28 (GC28), Pope Francis has urged the faithful to reach out to those who are waiting for us - the 'cast offs', child migrants, refugees, street boys and girls.

Look out for people whose human rights and dignity are violated every day, those caught up in networks of slavery and the loss of their freedom. 

Papua New Guinea has several of these, says the Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and Solomon Islands. 

“The present situation of the ‘Manus refugees’ has been hidden from view for the past six years, leading to social and moral problems and a number of human rights abuses. 

“This complacency should not continue. Communicating the issue through different media should bring about an effective social change.”

The core team of the Manus Refugees Panel - Rebecca Lim, Migration, Human Rights and community engagement practitioner; Paul Harricknen, President of the Catholic Professional Society and Lawyer and Fr. Ambrose Pereira sdb, CBC Social Communication and Youth Secretary, met with the NCD Governor, Powes Parkop, on 3rd November.

The panel gathered in Port Moresby to discuss ways ahead to ensure that the statement is carried forward. 

Issues discussed surrounded the health of the refugees, abuse and information to the refugees, while meetings are planned with the relevant government ministries.  

Bp Bernard Unaballi, Bishop of Bougainville, has suggested that there needs to be a commission at the level of the Catholic Bishops Conference to ensure that the different statements are followed up and carried forward. If not it stays at the level of discussions and statements.

“In the meanwhile, several refugees are being forcefully transported to Manus amidst a large number of visible police and immigration personnel. This is done in full view of the local people. 

“The transportation is done under the paranoia of security concerns for APEC.”

Participants at the Manus Refugee Panel Discussion hosted by the Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Professionals Society in Port Moresby voted overwhelmingly to support the following statement:

  • Australia has a moral obligation to look after ALL refugees and asylum seekers
  • Australia MUST take ALL refugees and asylum seekers to Australia by 25 December 2018. This is our Christmas present from Papua New Guineans and Manusians to the refugees and asylum seekers
  • Papua New Guineans, including Manusians, have said we no longer support the 'chequebook diplomacy'
  • We are deeply concerned that the human rights of the refugees and asylum seekers have been breached as they were forcibly sent to PNG; and Australia's policies has caused us reputational damage
  • We, the participants, are speaking on behalf of the women and children on Manus who are the victims of Australia's policies
  • The men have suffered enough from prolonged detention. Enough is enough. The time has come to let them go

(Fr Ambrose Pereira sdb coordinating the Q&A session in Port Moresby)

Press release