By Delly Waigeno in Port Moresby
Four naturalised citizens and 138 West Papuans have become citizens of Papua New Guinea.
Acting Chief Migration Officer Solomon Kantha said he was proud that the current government had been the first to take steps to see West Papuans get legal status in Papua New Guinea.
He also acknowledged the government for doing away with the K10,000 (about NZ$4350) citizenship fee for West Papuan refugees.
The citizenship certificate ceremony was a small but significant affair at the Sir John Guise Stadium Indoor Complex at the weekend in Port Moresby.
Present included officers from the Immigration and Citizen Service Authority, PNG Citizenship Advisory Committee and the board, recipients, family and friends.
Acting Chief Migration Officer Kantha said the four naturalised citizens who originated from China, Philippines and the United States had already contributed immensely to Papua New Guinea.
For the larger group of West Papuans, he acknowledged their resilience without government support and also acknowledged their contribution towards nation building.
Naturalised citizen Stephen Dunran expressed gratitude.
Kantha said the Department of Foreign Affairs and Immigration would work on getting the citizenship certificates signed and issue passports as well.
More than 10,000 West Papuan refugees are believed to be living in Papua New Guinea — many have been in the country for more than three decades.
More than 1000 West Papuans are reported to be in line for PNG citizenship.
Delly Waigeno is an EMTV News reporter.