Bruce: Planning for people to return

Health Minister Bruce Bilimon, right, with Kwajalein Iroojlaplap and Member of Nitijela Mike Kabua and Kwajalein Army base commander Col. Jeremy Bartel during a meeting on Ebeye May 25. Photo: Hilary Hosia.


It looks like the Marshall Islands government will follow the Federated States of Micronesia and begin allowing stranded citizens living abroad to return home.

The FSM government has indicated it is considering plans for a phased return of of its citizens over a period of months.

The development for RMI was shared by Minister of Health and Human Services Bruce Bilimon during a meeting with the Kwajalein Atoll Local Government council on Monday. The planning to return Marshallese stuck abroad because of the travel ban is in addition to the seven, including Utrok Member of Parliament Hiroshi Yamamura, who are in Pohnpei. They are expected to be returned home on a special AMI flight this week and be placed in a 14-day quarantine as a precautionary measure even though there are no confirmed Covid-19 cases in the FSM.

“The government is in its planning process and the people we are considering are returning citizens, not church groups or those seeking a holiday,” Bruce said. He assured the Kwajalein council rigorous screening and quarantine protocols will take place upon their arrival. Upon their arrival, all will be required to spend a 14-day period in quarantine on Majuro at the Arrak facility run by the Ministry of Health and Human Services, he said.

Over 300 Marshallese citizens remain stranded following the lockdown imposed by the RMI government through state of health emergency travel restrictions put in place starting March 8 to prevent Covid-19 spreading into the Marshall Islands.

More information will be available upon release of the new Travel Advisory to take the place of the current one, which expires June 5, Bruce continued.

“Three months ago I would oppose the idea of returning our people,” Bruce clarified. “But that was three months ago. This time I am comfortable. And with the number of (Covid-19) tests that will be administered, I am more comfortable.”

It was stated that Covid-19 test kits are now available at the Ebeye hospital, as well as in Majuro.

The US Army command at Kwajalein is also seeking the return of both stranded members of its workforce and new personnel needed for base operations.


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