Slider
Slider

|

Slider

Repatriation discussions ongoing in Marshall Islands

Regional News
Typography
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

MAJURO — Repatriation of Marshall Islanders stuck outside the Marshall Islands because of a Covid-19 border closure continues to be under consideration by the country’s National Disaster Committee despite mounting cases of Covid-19 in Hawaii and Guam, the two principle points of departure for international flights to the Marshall Islands.

The government has yet to make a decision about repatriating what is said to be over 200 people stranded in Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, Fiji, Kiribati and elsewhere. But the government’s National Disaster Committee is currently considering seeking Cabinet endorsement for the return of two groups.

These involve a group of patients and their escorts in Honolulu who number about 10. Since the beginning of August, following Hawaii’s relaxation of restrictions, Covid cases have mounted. For the past week, Hawaii has averaged 220 new cases of Covid-19 as the virus has spread, heavily on the main island of Oahu.


As part of the Marshall Islands' Covid-19 prevention strategy, the Environmental Protection Authority's vector team sprays incoming mail and cargo boxes and packages at Amata Kabua International Airport delivered on twice-weekly mail flights. Marshall Islands Environmental Protection Authority photo

Another group under consideration for repatriation is Marshallese in Kiribati, who are said to number about 13. Kiribati, like the Marshall Islands, has no confirmed cases of Covid-19.

The Hawaii patients and escorts would, if approved for repatriation at some later date, travel on the single monthly United Airlines flight and undergo quarantine at the U.S. Army Garrison — Kwajalein Atoll quarantine facilities. Prior to departure from Honolulu, they would be required to undergo a quarantine period in Honolulu, according to officials with the National Disaster Committee. USAG-KA has told the Marshall Islands that the maximum number of non-Army workers that it can accommodate is 10 people in quarantine.

Repatriation of Marshallese in Kiribati would reportedly involve a charter flight of the Air Marshall Islands Dash-8 aircraft to fly to Tarawa to return the group.

Although the Marshall Islands has maintained a border closure on incoming visitors since March 8, in June it approved the U.S. Army repatriating missile test range workers stranded in the U.S. Since the first group of five arrived June 9, nearly 140 people have returned and undergone a 21-day quarantine period at the U.S. Army base at Kwajalein, according to a Marshall Islands government weekly report on the ongoing repatriation program.

All but four of the people repatriated through Kwajalein have been base workers. Those four include a U.S. Embassy staff member, two Australian Navy officials, and Member of Nitijela or parliament. The Army has averaged about 13 per group in the 10 weeks that repatriation groups have been arriving on military aircraft.

previous arrow
next arrow
Shadow
Slider

Read more articles

Visit our Facebook Page

previous arrow
next arrow
Shadow
Slider