One of the first refugees to be resettled in Papua New Guinea has pleaded to be returned to Manus Island, saying life in limbo is better than living with fear, loneliness and poverty in the city of Lae.
"I don't have freedom. I want to go back to Manus," Loghaman Sawari, 20, told Fairfax Media after spending more than two months in PNG's second-largest city.
Mr Sawari has told how he was terrified by an armed "rascal" and reduced to tears by bullying in the town before being befriended by a homeless youth and taken to a Seventh Day Adventist Church.
Refugee Loghaman Sawari, 20, pictured in Lae with all his possessions, wants to return to the relative safety of the ...
Refugee Loghaman Sawari, 20, pictured in Lae with all his possessions, wants to return to the relative safety of the Manus transit centre. Photo: Supplied
Unskilled, with no secondary education, poor English and no money, Mr Sawari has concluded he has no prospect of trying to build a life in Lae and wants to return to the relative safety of the transit centre.
"Here I don't have anyone," he said. "Manus is better than here."
Mr Sawari was 17 when he was sent to Manus Island and was among the first to move from the detention centre to the transit centre in Lorengau. Suffering depression, he attempted suicide earlier this year and was taken to the police station as punishment.
Refugee Loghaman Sawari last year.
Refugee Loghaman Sawari last year. Photo: Andrew Meares
He left the transit centre two months ago and begin his resettlement with a labouring job that included accommodation. But Mr Sawari says many of the promises made when he left the centre were not honoured and, when he became sick, his medical bills were deducted from his already small wage.
He also says that without the promised access to wi-fi, he did not have enough money to buy food after using his money to ring his mother in Iran.
There was also an altercation with other migrant workers at the company that led him to consider self-harm and leave.
Orphan Jacob (pictured) met Mr Sawari on the streets of Lae and took him to a church.
Orphan Jacob (pictured) met Mr Sawari on the streets of Lae and took him to a church. Photo: Supplied
It was then that homeless man Jacob found Mr Sawari scared on the street and took pity on him. "I'd like to help to help him but I have no money," he said.
It was Jacob who took Mr Sawari to Bob Butler, the chief financial officer of the Seventh Day Adventist church, who offered safety and shelter. While living on the street, Mr Sawari said he saw more than 50 young homeless people. "They don't have a father, no mother," he said.
"He seemed to have a good caring attitude," Mr Butler said of Mr Sawari. "He was concerned about the street boys that looked after him.
"They were concerned about him. They said, 'If he was out on the street, we're OK, but Loghman won't survive'."
Mr Butler describes PNG as a land of opportunity for those with skills, but adds: "For people that don't have education, qualifications or an entrepreneurial bent, life is going to be tough because there are eight million people competing for the (unskilled) jobs."
"If you're a local you've got family and the wantok system (of obligation to family) and the village and land, you will survive, but if you don't have those roots here, you can only survive on what your mind and hands can do.
"It's early days but I'd like to see his English improve to the point where he could go to a trade school or a college and learn. I think he'd like that."
Mr Sawari says he wants to learn and improve his skills, but has no capacity to do so in Lae.
More than 60 refugees remain at the transit centre at Lorengau, while more than 900 are in their third year at the detention centre. More than half of those in detention have been found to be refugees.
Mr Sawari is one of six who left the transit centre. Fairfax Media has asked both the Australian and PNG governments how many of the six are in work but has not received any answers.
"The Papua New Guinea (PNG) government is responsible for the settlement of refugees in PNG and any settlement services provided to refugees," a spokesman for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's department said.
"You may wish to directly approach the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Services Authority for comment." Questions to the authority have drawn not response.
The Turnbull government is responsible for meeting the costs of detention and resettlement.
The refugees were told they would receive assistance to "establish themselves in their new homes", including a 12-month health insurance policy and access to trauma and torture counselling, and would be able to bring family members to jon them in Papua New Guinea.
Mr Sawari says he spoke to an immigration official last week who undertook to come at see him, but has not yet had the meeting.