Stranded Papua New Guineans in Manila arrive home

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.”

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