Africans 'using PNG' to get to Australia
June 1, 2007 – 4:34PM
Three African men detained in Papua New Guinea after illegally crossing the border from Indonesia's Papua Province have told police they were on their way to seek asylum in Australia.
The three men aged in their twenties, believed to be from Nigeria, were in police custody in the town of Vanimo near the northern border between the two countries, police said.
They were apprehended after being dropped off by boat near Vanimo in the early hours of Wednesday, Sandaun Provincial Police Commander Richard Mulou told PNG's newspaper The National.
He said the men told police they had planned to travel on to Australia to seek political asylum.
They said they were from Nigeria but their nationality was hard to confirm because they carried no passports or other identification documents, Mulou said.
A syndicate could be involved in people smuggling across the border because two weeks previously a Malaysian and three people from Myanmar were apprehended after being dropped by boat near Vanimo, he said.
The three Africans told police the people who arranged their crossing into PNG told them it would be easy to travel on to Australia because PNG authorities were not good at detecting illegal migrants.
Under an agreement signed between PNG and Australia, any illegal migrants who make it to Australia from PNG can be sent back to PNG if they had spent more than seven days there in transit.