Repatriation Delayed

The Minister of Climate Change, Bruno Leingkone is expected to release a statement this week to present the government’s plan of implementing the second phase of repatriation of citizens that are overseas.

This has been revealed in a statement released yesterday by the Prime Minister’s Office.

The countries that Vanuatu will repatriate its citizens from are New Caledonia, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

As announced earlier this month, this programme will continue from August until December 2020.

The Government says there are still thousands of Vanuatu citizens abroad working as seasonal workers in Australia and New Zealand as well as students.

Government Public Relations Officer, Fred Vurobaravu, says yesterday the repatriation flights that were supposed to be made by Air Vanuatu have been cancelled.

Vurobaravu says the flight schedules that Air Vanuatu released last week was not requested by the COVID-19 Advisory Committee and Task Force.

“There were no prior consultations between Air Vanuatu and COVID-19 Advisory Committee before the airline schedule was released to the public.

“That is the reason behind the postponing of international flights yesterday,” the Government PRO said.

Meanwhile, the government says even though Air Vanuatu has outstanding landing fees in countries such as Australia and New Zealand, but following the COVID-19 pandemic, the two host countries have assured that their airport authorities will not seize any aircraft.

This response was given after so much issues raised on social media that Air Vanuatu could not travel out because of money it owes to airports, especially in Australia and New Zealand.

The National COVID-19 Review Committee is currently preparing logistics for the second repatriation plan.

These logistics include reviews of health protocols, preparation of quarantine and isolation centres and flights.

Citizens living, working or stranded overseas are advised to contact the nearest consular office of Vanuatu to indicate whether they wish to return to Vanuatu and on what date.

Vanuatu borders will remain closed until December 31, 2020 but medical evacuations are still allowed out of Vanuatu.

Vanuatu’s diplomat in New Zealand that recently passed away will be airlifted home with his family by his side as well as Chief Kenneth Worwor, a seasonal worker from Ambrym.

Mr Vurobaravu has asked the Management of Air Vanuatu to work closely with the COVID-19 Advisory Committee to ensure understanding and cooperation for the second phase of repatriations.

The Labour Department and agents of seasonal workers are advised to encourage Vanuatu seasonal workers to remain and continue to raise revenue through new contracts while in Australia and New Zealand.

With plans to send an extra 170 workers to harvest mangoes in Australia’s Northern Territory this month, the PRO says the government wants to see agents recruit workers that are in other parts of Australia, whose contracts have ended.

The Government PRO has reminded social media users not to put out misleading information about the management of repatriation and effort by the government with the COVID-19 Advisory Committee.

Daily Post understands that before Air Vanuatu put out its schedule last week, it had consulted with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO).

Yesterday the national airline had to call off its planned schedule that was announced last week.

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