Stranded

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By GYNNIE KERO
A UNIVERSITY lecturer is thousands of miles away from his family this long Easter weekend – stranded in a city in Spain where he is studying.
Gibson Kupale, an engineer and lecturer at the University of Technology in Lae, who arrived in Valladolid city, Spain in February for a five-month study trip, is desperate to return home.
“My family is back in Unitech, my wife and three daughters. We communicate through WhatsApp but I sort of stopped as I knew they are going to ask the same obvious question. I don’t have an answer,” he said.
“The fear I have now is the distance I am from PNG. Spain to Port Moresby usually takes three connecting flights. But through diplomatic intervention, I am optimistic that I should be allowed through all stopovers/transit zones and eventually make it back home.”
Kupale is one of the PNG citizens stranded abroad because of the Covid-19 lockdown. He contacted The National yesterday to raise his case with Foreign Affairs department officials in Port Moresby who are currently trying to contact them.
“I saw an article in The National regarding the (Government plan on the) repatriation of citizens and wanted to contact the Department of Foreign Affairs but couldn’t,” he said.
“I contacted the nearest embassy which is in Brussels, Belgium. They were very helpful and able to support me. We worked on options for me to leave.
“But the fear of catching the disease in a foreign country with no relatives or wantok to take care of me has practically kept me indoors for the past four weeks.
“I still don’t know when this will end.”
He left the country on Feb 15 and was supposed to return on July 15. But the tour had to be cut short because of the pandemic. Valladolid city is a two-hour travel by train from Spain’s capital Madrid.
Foreign Affairs Minister Patrick Pruaitch recently tasked the department to devise an evacuation plan and budget to help stranded citizens in various countries.
Pruaitch said PNG’s diplomatic missions abroad should be resourced and supported to assist in the evacuation of PNG nationals.
“We have the responsibility to look after our citizens abroad and to bring them home in times of emergency,” he said.
“The longer they are stranded, the higher the risk of exposing them to the virus.”
Prime Minister James Marape on Tuesday said Papua New Guinean citizens living overseas would be repatriated. Kupale described Marape’s statement as “a blessing from God”.
“It is a huge relief. I am really grateful to our prime minister for leaving no citizen behind in these tough times,” he said.
“I’m the one stranded in Spain. Being the furthest from everyone else and from a country ranking among the worst hit by Covid-19, I am praying that I will join (those) returning team home to PNG soon.”

18 comments

  • Its one thing to tell PNG citizens to contact the consulates. It is another thing altogether to resource the consulate to to be able to assist the people turning up at the consulates. Many offices are struggling to pay rent. Email after email sent to the PNG Foreign Affairs Office in Port Moresby only to end up in a Black Hole. Staff at the Foreign Affairs in PNG are simply not fit to do the jobs that are paid to do.

  • The Govt should not allow any one come in from overseas. Its lockdown, stay where you are and pray that God almighty will protect you where you are.

  • I know Mr.Kupale as my lecturer at PNG Unitech. A very skilled and intelligent electrical engineer who helps produces our nation technocrats coming out from UOT. Thank you PNG govt for the commitment to bring him and others home and The National for this article.

  • We don not want to loose one of our Human resource this country will need. Please may our good Prime Minister respond to his plea and aid him in this very desperate hour.

  • The lives of the millions of Papua New Guineans is very important then those minorities who are abroad. They should not be allowed into the country until the situation is fully contained.

  • Kinda hefty bringing him back. Just support him financially, till the air is appealing for him to return. Do trust the authorities are fit to quarantine such case upon arrival. Need to keep him among our prayers till, though.

  • May the Almighty God protect and guide you while you are there. Hope you will reunite with your famìly soon once the Government organise repatriation of all citizens who are abroad.Take care

  • Government will have to be swift to repatriate all PNG citizens home. All normal routines of quarantine of citizens returning to the country MUST BE DONE accordingly.
    Hope all our human resources are safe throughout the world and return safely and without infections.

  • We need producers of our human resources, please make all necessary arrangements to have him back home.
    PNG need him.

  • Thank you Mr.Kupale for getting in touch with The National. I also am trying my best to get information after I heard the government was going to organize to evacuate nationals overseas but to no avail. Let us thank God that all things are possible through him. There’s two of us here in Vuda, Fiji.

  • Its difficult gor the government to bring those stranded abroad. Stay indoor, listen to the advise of local authority and the institution that sponsored you there. It will be impossible to get you back home given that most ciuntries have close their borders.
    We pray God’s protection be upon you in Jesus’s name Amen

  • Mr kupale I pray for you to come back safe and reunite with your family at this critical time. God be with you in your jounouny

  • To repatriate him out of Spain wouldn’t be a problem but the problem would be his transit points.
    I feel for our fellow country man – May the Angels of God surround you everyday. May the Fire of the Holy Spirit burn and chase any disease or enemy coming your way or past you.

    PNG is a CHRISTIAN COUNTRY – have FAITH and lets pray for him.

    Regards

    Andy

  • The current government have failed again yet another citizen of this country, the 14 or so students stranded in china at the very moment that the covid19 break out but couldn’t be repatriated home. My brother Spain is on the other side of the globe and I don’t think the Marape-Steven government can help you. Try other social media networks in Papua new Guinea so that they may arrange for an alternative solution for your extraction.
    GOD bless you and GOD bless Papua new Guinea

  • February was time when we/our organisation shut all our international or overseas travel because of the COVID 19. We would have weighted out the situation and decide. Anyway, I hope you will be safe and return back safely.

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