US aids FSM return

An Air Station Barbers Point HC-130 Hercules airplane lands at Pohnpei International Airport, FSM, carrying passengers from Guam during a repatriation fight May 13. The humanitarian flights were the first to allow passengers to deplane in the FSM since the country closed its borders in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: US Coast Guard video courtesy of US Embassy Kolonia.

KAREN EARNSHAW

The first group of people to be repatriated to the Federated States of Micronesia since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic arrived in Pohnpei from Guam on May 13 and 14.
Forty-two FSM citizens were on board the two humanitarian flights conducted by the US Coast Guard and funded by the US government. The group spent seven days in a quarantine facility in Guam before being repatriated and are now doing another seven-day quarantine in Pohnpei.

Stranded medical patients and their care givers, students, and essential personnel make up the majority of the group’s members. They were all scheduled to return in December, 2020, but that trip was cancelled by President David Panuelo because of concerns of the virus spreading to the FSM community.

According to the FSM Information Services, all of the passengers had multiple Covid tests before and during the quarantine and most had proof of being fully vaccinated. Those without completed vaccinations will be held in quarantine for 14 days.
President Panuelo thanked the Coast Guard officers, saying:  “You  are the ones who  executed  our nation’s first successful repatriation  effort,  and you have done  so flawlessly.  You have the appreciation  of our  government and our people. Our  FSM-US enduring partnership exists  because  of acts  of service like yours, and it is acts of service like yours that continue to strengthen  our  close bonds.”

The US Embassy in Kolonia said in a release April 6 it was working in collaboration with the US Coast Guard to provide two humanitarian flights from Guam. “Both flights’ costs will be fully covered by the US Government and will include passengers selected by FSM government officials and members of the US Embassy Team.”

According to the FSM Information Services office, the collaboration follows a request in the form of a diplomatic note from President Panuelo to the US government.
The President also thanked the Pohnpei Surf Club and the FSM Consulate in Guam for providing photos of the humanitarian flights. 
The FSM government has scheduled a second repatriation of citizens, this time from the Marshall Islands. According to the FSM Information Services, this is currently set for May 31.

President Panuelo sent out a message to all other citizens stranded in various countries: “To  my dear fellow  citizens still stranded  abroad, please  know  that your government has not forgotten  you, and is committed  to getting you home.”

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