The Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is now executing the second phase of its Consular Response Plan with repatriation exercise for PNG Citizens stranded abroad.
The first Government-funded charter departed Jacksons International Airport this morning 06:40 hours to repatriate citizens who have been stranded in Fiji and Vanuatu since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic.
The charter departed with 28 non-nationals onboard, 24 Fijian and 4 Solomon Island citizens to Honiara, Port Vila, and Nadi to drop them off and to pick up a total of hundred and three (103) PNG stranded citizens, ninety-five (95) citizens in Nadi, Fiji and eight (8) in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
The stranded citizens are those that have gone for work, business holidays, seeking medical treatment, attending short term studies or training, visiting families and transiting, and were caught stranded due to lockdowns imposed in those countries and couldn’t return home.
In a statement released by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Department says,
“These are not ordinary times, and there are challenges ahead that need to be are dealt with to allow for such successful repatriation exercise to happen. Most countries are still on total lockdown and not allowing inbound or outbound passengers and flights. However; through the diplomatic channels and cooperation with our bilateral, multilateral, and private sector partners and the SOE machinery, we are able to successfully send in charter flights to repatriate our citizens.”
Upon arrival at the Jacksons, these citizens will be screened by the Health Authorities and NAQIA team and then quarantined for 14 days at designated hotels funded by the Government through DFAIT.
This charter now completes the repatriation of PNG stranded citizens across Pacific island countries. The PNG Government has now completed safe repatriation of all stranded citizens that were located in; Fiji (95), Vanuatu (8), New Caledonia (10), Nauru (2), Federated State of Micronesia (FSM) (7), totaling up to 122 PNG stranded citizens from Pacific Island Countries successfully repatriated home.
As of today, the Government has had successfully repatriated 420 PNG standard citizens. A total of 709 citizens from across the world still remain to be repatriated; 238 citizens across 11 countries in Asia region; 389 in Australia; 82 citizens across 15 countries in Europe, Africa, and America regions.
Following the successful repatriation mission of the first Government funded charter flight, the Government is keen and looking forward to sending more charter flights into other regions which are on total lockdown to repatriate the stranded citizens in the coming week.
DFAIT including the PNG Diplomatic Missions and Consular Posts overseas will continue to maintain contact with our stranded citizens and provide the necessary consular assistance to them whilst waiting to be uplifted.