Six Palauans in the United States are facing deportation amid the surge of the COVID-19 cases and discussions with the Palauan government to send those deportees back home is ongoing.
Although details have not been provided about the repatriation, State Minister Faustina Rechucher in a text message confirmed the discussion about the planned deportation of some Palauans from the U.S.
Minister of Health Emais Roberts in an interview on Friday said that there are six deportees that the US is supposed to bring to Palau with the government flight.
Minister Roberts said they were told of the plan last week, Friday.
“That is something I am concerned about. Even though they are Palauan citizens, we have to make sure they go through the proper quarantine, “ he said.
Minister Roberts said it would be best if the US authorities “ hold them in the US until there is a vaccine.”
Palau is one of the few remaining nations in the world that are COVID-free.
The Office of the Vice President, Ernest Ongidobel in response to an email inquiry said that the Ministry of Justice “have been informed via diplomatic note from the United States Government through the Ministry of State, that there are certain Palauan deportees that need to be repatriated to Palau.”
Echoing Minister of State, Mr. Ongidobel said that “discussion is still ongoing as to when it will be practical for Palau to receive such people given the state of COVID 19 situation in the U.S. and its territories including Guam.”
Ongidobel also said the issues of the cost of repatriation, testing and quarantine of the reported deportees are also under consideration during the discussion.
Inquiries to the government agencies regarding who will pay for the cost of the planned repatriation and the timeline of deportation flights have not been answered. No response was received from the US Embassy upon email inquiry.
But Ongidobel said deportees will also have to adhere to the strict covid 19 testing and quarantine requirements currently being imposed by Palau to travelers entering Palau.
Minister Roberts fears that opening the borders especially from COVID 19 hotspots can expose Palau to a higher risk of COVID 19.
“All it takes is one case, with our population and resources and we will lose everything we have worked for, “ Roberts said.