While government funding is yet to be released, the Consul has gone ahead and prepared travel arrangements for the group to return to Vanimo on Wednesday 6th May.
Eighteen citizens are on standby to be repatriated back to PNG. They have been stranded in Jayapura since January 2020 when PNG border authorities wasted no time in securing this major entry point.
Consul General to Jayapura Col. Geoffrey Wiri tells TVWan News, “PNG authorities closed the Wutung border post on 31st January 2020. Jayapura closed their border on the 17th March followed by all other entry points into Papua Province on the 26th March. The border has been closed since.”
“We have requested funding through the Department of Foreign Affairs however nothing has been received to date. The PNG SoE Controller had announced all PNG citizens stranded overseas were to return to PNG between the 7th and 21st of April 2020 however that date has lapsed. We await clear instructions from the Controller for when the Wutung border post will re- open.” He said.
Local Indonesian media report that authorities in Papua Province are scheduled to lift restrictions on 6th May so the PNG Consul is ready to repatriate the first group then.
Col Wiri explained, While waiting for clearance from the PNG Controller, there are now ten prisoners who have been released who will also be repatriated making that a total 18 citizens. Six will go by boat back to Vanimo, and the others by road to Wutung.”
“At the time of this interview, Papua Province has to date 210 confirmed cases, out of which 80 are in Jayapura City. Meanwhile the situation on the ground is normal with everyone abiding by the hygiene, social distancing and isolation practices. The Consul-General is closed for this period until 6th of May.” He said.