115 West Papuans, mainly from the northern part of the country, have been made Papua New Guinean citizens.
They were among 195 people who were welcomed last week, also including 64 dual citizens and 16 naturalised citizens, according to the Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority.
Minister for responsible for immigration and border security, Petrus Thomas said the applications received showed the authority’s processes and timely manner was a testimony of the hard work put in place.
“This number shows the confidence our clients and the public have in the integrity and transparency of our process,” Mr Petrus said.
“I am proud that this process has commenced successfully and the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Service Authority is now receiving more applications for citizenship than ever before.”
Mr Petrus said that globally, recognition of migration was an important process for economic and social development “if managed well in the interest of the country”, adding that the process welcomes “social cohesion and growth in all sectors” contributed by the new citizens.
“The process of dual citizenship is one such important initiative. We have to get our citizens who are now outside to reconnect to the home country without losing the citizenship of the country they reside in and enable those who wish to remain become PNG citizens,” he said.
“Papua New Guinea is no longer an island on its own. We are multi-ethnic and multi-racial…and this process recognises that diversity that we already have.”
A citizenship ceremony held last week, which saw 41 awarded was the third for dual citizenship and the fourth for naturalized in which four ceremonies were performed for West Papuans in Lae, Madang, Vanimo and Wewak.
During the ceremony, Mr Petrus reminded the recipients that as Papua New Guineans they had an obligation to the country.
“You must respect the laws of this country and be loyal. This country has given us a lot and it is time to give to the fullest,” he says adding that they were already Papua New Guineans by heart and “this is just a process to formalise that.”