By ALISON ANIS
THE five men from New Ireland province who were stranded in the Marshall Islands after drifting at sea for two months have returned and are now reunited with their families on Tabar Island.
Their repatriation was handled by the Foreign Affairs Department, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Papua New Guinea and the National Disaster Centre (NDC).
IOM national programme officer Solomon Kantha said the group arrived on the first flight from Cairns last Friday morning and spent the weekend in Port Moresby before returning home on Monday.
“They spent a night in Hideaway Hotel last Friday and the weekend in Port Moresby and left
on a Monday flight to Lihir,” Mr Kantha said.
NDC acting director Martin Mose named the five, all in their early 20s, as Kolwin Benad, Landue Benad, Sabkia Metedius, Nick Sabkia and Alfred Towe.
The five and two others who were with them, were in their 20ft banana boat at sea for two months. The two others died.
The five were rescued by a passing fishing vessel somewhere near Nauru and brought to the Marshall Islands capital Majuro where they were kept until their return last week.
They were met by Mr Kantha, including officials from the Foreign Affairs and NDC, upon their arrival at
“All five looked healthy and were looking forward to be reunited with family members on Tabar Island,” Mr
Kantha said, adding they were well looked after on Marshall Islands.
IOM and NDC provided the funds while Foreign Affairs facilitated their return home.
PNG Foreign Affairs thanked the Marshall Islands government, as well as those involved like doctors and nurses who helped in the full recovery of the five survivors.
They also thanked the PNG community in Majuro for its help.