Stranded citizens return from Manila

Thirty-eight PNG nationals stranded in Manila, the Philippines, returned on a late chartered flight on Thursday, May 14th.

The Air Niugini Exxon Mobil chartered flight brought in the citizens at around 11.30pm.

The chartered flight had repatriated 29 of its Filipino workers and other residents back to the Philippines and on its return leg, uplifted 38 of the PNG nationals who had been stranded there since the lockdown.

Foreign Affairs and International Trade acting deputy secretary operations, John Yamin, whilst expressing his gratitude to the corporate sponsor, said the Department was anticipating the return of a much larger group but due to the lockdown in the Philippines, a good number of citizens out in the provinces were unable to make it into Manila in time.

“Similarly, there were some issues with the stays of some of our citizens in Manila hence we were looking at a good number to return home – around the 92 mark – however, that has been brought down significantly to about 38 passengers returning home,” Yamin stated.

“They are basically students who have finished their studies or have had their lessons abruptly stopped because of the situation in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world. There are some missionaries also on this flight as well as some Papua New Guinea-Philippines residents as well as some of our citizens who went to the Philippines to seek medical attention.”

Yamin said on the flight was also the body of a PNG citizen who unfortunately, had passed away whilst undergoing medical treatment there.

“I would like to take this opportunity to apologise and also thank the family for the long delay we underwent, for their understanding and their cooperation and being patient.”

Yamin said 110 or more registered stranded citizens are yet to be repatriated from the Philippines.

Globally, 113 PNG citizens have been extracted and are under quarantine at Holiday Inn and other designated hotels, while 97 non-citizens returned as essential employees.

Yamin says around 840 citizens are yet to be repatriated.

Carmella Gware