Australia funds PNG police reinforcements.

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  • Australia is planning to finance reinforcements for Papua New Guinea’s struggling police force.
  • About 20 police officers will be flown into the country during Q1 2024, with a potential for up to 100 reinforcements over a two-year period.

Australia has announced plans to provide financial support to Papua New Guinea to reinforce its struggling police force. The Australian-funded initiative will involve bringing police reinforcements from Commonwealth countries to the Pacific island nation. The first contingent of 20 officers is expected to arrive in Papua New Guinea during the first quarter of 2024. The scheme, which may eventually reach up to 100 reinforcements, is set to run for two years. Although specific financial details were not provided, Papua New Guinea will reportedly bear no costs under the arrangement.

The police force in Papua New Guinea currently has only a few thousand officers to maintain security for a population of almost 10 million people. The country faces security challenges in many parts, and a recent police strike led to riots and at least 25 deaths. Concerned about China’s increasing influence in the South Pacific, Australia aims to strengthen its ties with traditional allies including Papua New Guinea. The move comes after China had reportedly offered to train and equip Papua New Guinea’s police force last year, raising concerns for Australia.

The police reinforcements will wear Papua New Guinea police uniforms, operate under the country’s laws, and report to the Papua New Guinea Police Commissioner. The Chinese proposal to train the police force had raised concerns due to the country’s proximity to Australia’s northern coast. Papua New Guinea’s foreign minister has stated that it would not be a major issue if the Chinese offer was rejected. Meanwhile, Australia has also agreed to spend approximately $25 million on renovating and expanding police barracks and housing in Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister is scheduled to visit Australia this week, where he is expected to address the Australian parliament. As Australia remains the largest donor to the country, Chinese firms have been making inroads into the region’s markets. By strengthening ties with traditional allies, Australia hopes to counter China’s influence in the South Pacific.

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