Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Open letter to Minister Faafoi – an appeal to help 34 abandoned Papuan students

Papuan student advocate Laurens Ikinia ... “We are so grateful to all Kiwis across
the country for their generous support." IMAGE: Del Abcede/Asia Pacific Report

OPEN LETTER: By David Robie

Kia ora Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi

IT IS unconscionable. A bewildering and grossly unfair crisis for 34 young Papuan students – 25 male and 9 female – the hope for the future of the West Papua region, the Melanesian half of Papua New Guinea island ruled by Indonesia.

They were part of a cohort of 93 Papuan students studying in Aotearoa New Zealand on local provincial autonomy government scholarships, preparing for their careers, and learning or improving their English along the way. They were also making Pacific friendships and contacts.

They were fast becoming a “bridge” to New Zealand. Ambassadors for their people.

And then it all changed. Suddenly through no fault of their own, 41 of them were told out of the blue their scholarships were being cancelled and they had to return home.

Their funds were cut with no warning. Many of them had accommodation bills to pay, university fees to cover and other student survival debts.

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