Dept able to meet quarantine costs: Official

The Foreign Affairs and International Trade Department is now able to meet the quarantine costs for PNG nationals who are returning from abroad.

The acting deputy secretary operations said this is possible through funding allocated by the government.

The average Papua New Guinean cannot afford to live in a hotel for two weeks. And this was the concern raised by Papua New Guineans who wanted to return from abroad.

John Yamin said the K15 million approved by Government was specifically to address their consular response plans in relation to stranded citizens.

“Now with this funding, we’ll be able to carry out the charter flights, do accommodation for quarantine here as well as look after our missions abroad; how they can be able to go about doing their business in managing our citizens that are still stranded abroad,” Yamin said.

“They need funds – with the lockdown in various countries – it’s very hard for them to operate and also take care of our citizens. Hence, some of these funds will be utilised to enable our missions abroad – our ambassadors and high commissioners and the staff – to work with the citizens, address some of their issues and organise for their eventual uplift back into Papua New Guinea.”

Yamin was speaking after the return of 38 nationals who were stranded in Manila. They were brought back into the country by an Air Niugini Exxon Mobil chartered flight on the 14th of May.

To date, 840 citizens are yet to be repatriated.

Yamin said the unprecedented COVID-19 situation has been a learning curve for the department as well as the entire Government system.

“For us, yes it has been a challenge,” he stated. “And we have learnt a lot from it and we believe that we have grown stronger from the experience.”

(DFAIT acting deputy secretary operations, John Yamin, speaking to media at the Jackson’s International Airport terminal)

Carmella Gware