Work on detailed Repatriation Plan for stranded Vanuatu citizens underway

The National COVID-19 Advisory Team at the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) is putting together a detailed repatriation plan for the return of all Vanuatu citizens stranded overseas due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The development of the repatriation plan came following a Council of Ministers’ (COM) recommendation to have such a plan for Vanuatu, which was endorsed by the National Disaster Committee (NDC).

NDMO Director Abraham Nasak advised that the COM had made a recommendation for a repatriation plan for all stranded citizens overseas, which the NDC has already endorsed and so the COVID-19 Advisory Team is currently working on its details.

“Currently the Advisory Team is working on the details of the repatriation plan and once this is complete the following process is to be followed,” he explained.

“The plan will be submitted to the NDC and COM for endorsement. Once this is done, the Minister of Climate Change and Natural Disasters will sign an order that will be gazetted by State Law Office before the repatriation program begins.”

The NDMO Director reiterated that protection and prevention against COVID-19 for the population of Vanuatu in the country is the main priority consideration for the COVID-19 taskforce when working on the repatriation plan.

One of the related matter to COVID-19 pandemic to consider also is the technical and legal issues behind the lockdown of Vanuatu’s international borders and those of countries overseas where Vanuatu citizens are currently residing in.

The COVID-19 Advisory Team is working together with relevant authorities overseas to make sure Vanuatu citizens can return home soon.

Vanuatu is expecting to receive its citizens in the coming weeks and will closely follow the health protocol once they enter the country, following their repatriation.

The COVID-19 cartridges to be used for testing all returning citizens against COVID-19 have arrived in the country last weekend, flown in by the Royal Australian Air force. This was made possible by Vanuatu’s development partners and these cartridges will be utilized by Vanuatu’s health practitioners to test.

This initiative is part of the preparation measures for Vanuatu on the ground towards this pandemic.

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