25 June 2020
The Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, has been executing the second phase of its Consular Response Plan with repatriation exercise for PNG citizens stranded abroad.
This is the third government charter flight repatriating 90 PNG nationals stranded in the Philippines.
This charter follows on from two successful charter flights into the Pacific region (Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia), land order repatriation from Jaya Pura and Sydney ( Australia and New Zealand) last week.
DFAIT Acting Deputy Secretary Operations, , John Yamin, said that 138 Filipino citizens working and living in PNG, who could not return home due to the lockdown and current travel restrictions, boarded the charter flight to return to the Philippines.
“This charter was the second into Manila. The first charter flight was organized by ExxonMobil ,that repatriated 29 of its Filipino workers and other Filipinos, back to the Philippines and on its return leg, had airlifted 38 PNG citizens back home.”
The 90 stranded citizens were mostly students, travelers on holidays, those seeking medical treatment and transiting, and were caught in the lockdowns imposed by the Philippine government and couldn’t return home.
Citizens were screened by health authorities and NAQIA teams on arrival at Jackson’s International Airport and then ushered to designated government-funded hotels to undergo 14 days quarantine.
“Since March, the Government has successfully repatriated over 670 PNG stranded citizens from across the globe.
“ A total of 500 citizens from across the world still remain to be repatriated : 150 citizens across 8 countries in Asia region; 272 in Australia; 78 citizens across 15 countries in Europe, Africa and America regions,” Mr Yamin said.
The government is expected to airlift PNG stranded citizens in Sentani, Indonesia and Malaysia and China (Hong Kong) in its remaining two charters in the coming week.
Mr Yamin admits, “these are not ordinary times, and there are challenges ahead that need to be 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, PNG Mission and Posts overseas and the SOE machinery, we are able to successfully send in charter flights to repatriate our citizens.”