A large number of workers under the Recognized Seasonal Employer (RSE) Scheme are expected to be repatriated on additional flights to be operated by the New Zealand (NZ) Defence Force starting tomorrow (Friday).
The proposed plan is to operate two flights a day starting on June 19 this week to bring back over 1, 000 RSE workers with urgent work and family issues, said the Director of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Yvon Basil.
He said their situation is a matter of urgency that requires quick repatriation since most of them have lost jobs and are living off their savings.
Apart from RSE workers, Director Basil conveyed that two repatriation flights for stranded citizens and residents are expected from Australia next week.
He said arrangements are being made for Nauru Airlines to fly in over 200 stranded citizens with some seasonal workers.
Due to limited capacity of seats, they will operate two flights, he added.
The first flight expected on June 22 will fly from Melbourne to Brisbane before coming to Port Vila while the second flight expected the next day will come from Sydney, said Director Basil.
He said the final list of repatriates are yet to be finalized and approved.
Meanwhile, the Director of the Department of Public Health, Len Tarivonda, said the challenge now is to secure quarantine facilities ready for the large number of repatriates.
According to Tarivonda, around 132 seasonal workers are expected on each flight starting tomorrow.
He said the first phase of the repatriation is expected to be complete end of June while the next phase is scheduled later this year starting from August.
It has been decided that there will be no repatriation flights next month, to allow front-line workers such as health, police and border control officers to rest and celebrate the 40th independence anniversary before the next repatriation phase.