The mass repatriation of stranded citizens and permanent residents abroad under the Vanuatu Government is expected to commence with the first flight from New Zealand (NZ) carrying over 60 individuals tomorrow (Wednesday).
This was confirmed by the Director of the Department of Public Health and Spokesperson of COVID-19, Len Tarivonda.
Director Tarivonda said the confirmed flight is expected at midday.
The mass repatriation of stranded citizens from countries like Fiji, New Caledonia (NC), NZ and Australia did not commence as of last weekend as announced by the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO).
Tarivonda conveyed that repatriation from NC and Fiji that were supposed to take place during weekend are being renegotiated.
Negotiations are being facilitated between the governments of Vanuatu, NC and Fiji including the airline that will be used, he said.
"The only confirmed flight is on Wednesday this week from NZ and it should be bringing over 64 of our nationals.
"Hopefully the other flights from Fiji, NC and Australia being facilitated will happen soon," he said.
"A number of hotel or resorts in Port Vila that meet the minimum quarantine standards prescribed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) will be used to accommodate the returning citizens and residents.
"We have approached them in regards to the price that they have to offer."
NDMO has made it clear that returning citizens are subjected to conditions imposed and supervised by NDMO and the Ministry of Health.
Mr Tarivonda said repatriation is expected to continue until end of this year, to cover Ni-Vanuatu citizens in seasonal work programmes, cruise liners, fishermen including diplomats and consulates serving around the globe.
Ni-Vanuatu students that need to return home after completing studies should be included in the next repatriation process, Tarivonda added.
According to the Director, the Department of Foreign Affairs is preparing a long-term repatriation plan to cater for everyone that needs to come back home.