BY ALEX DADAMU
THE Cabinet over the past week has approved the repatriation of over 340 Solomon Islands students studying in the Philippines both private and Government sponsored students.
This was confirmed by the secretary to the Prime Minister and also the chairperson of the COVID-19 oversight committee, Dr. Jimmy Rodgers and James Bosamata, the Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development (MEHRD).
Dr. Rodgers in confirming the approval of the repatriation of the Philippines Students has stated that the daily number of new COVID cases in the Philippines is averaging almost 5000 and community transmission is quite high which means everyone and anyone there face a high risk of acquiring the virus.
“Our jobs now is that if we repatriate our students – they are safe before they board the flight and are safe after they get here,” Dr. Rodgers said.
Meanwhile, James Bosamata, Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Education also confirmed the repatriation stating a taskforce has been established which consist of staff from the ministry of foreign affairs and staff from the national scholarship division within the Ministry of education.
Mr. Bosamata revealed that the taskforce has been working together with the student’s association executive, the student president since last week to gather as much information they can get about all students in the Philippines.
“Last week the taskforce has been working together with the student’s association executive, the student president – we need all the information about how many of them are staying in one region/area because when they are repatriated they may have to come according to those particular groupings – they will be repatriated in several flights,” Mr. Bosamata said.
He further added that it very important that the taskforce know every informations about the students because they will need to do a thorough check-up or test for COVID-19 before they board the flight for Honiara.
In the meantime, apart from the Philippines Students repatriation, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of foreign affairs and External Trade, Mr. Collin Beck has also reiterated that a repatriation flight was scheduled for 16th August 2020 for Brisbane to Auckland to Honiara and then return to Brisbane.
“The flight is expected to repatriate nationals from countries including UK, Geneva, Taiwan, Italy, and as far as Kenya – this is besides nationals in Australia and also workers in, Auckland NZ, who are ready to return home, some of whom have given an extension to their contracts – so we are expecting to repatriate more than 40 season workers in NZ. Also engineers from Japan – who are needed to start off some important National projects in the country – they are also expected on the flight.” Mr Collin Beck said.