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Jakarta Post

Timor Leste evacuees sought NZ's help after 'Bali refused', confirms NTT

  • Hengky Ola Sura

    The Jakarta Post

Maumere   /   Tue, February 11, 2020   /   01:39 pm
Timor Leste evacuees sought NZ's help after 'Bali refused', confirms NTT An aircraft bearing the Air New Zealand livery takes off from Queenstown on Aug. 16, 2014. (Shutterstock/Petr Sommer )

The East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) provincial administration has confirmed that 17 Timor Leste citizens evacuated from China had been quarantined in New Zealand after Bali turned down Dili's pleas for help.

NTT spokesperson Marius Ardu Jelamu told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that the Timor Leste nationals had been quarantined in New Zealand since Feb. 5.

“They canceled their plans to be quarantined in Kupang," Marius said, referring to the provincial capital. "It turns out that, after they were rejected by Bali, the Timor Leste government asked for New Zealand’s help.”

NTT Governor Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat had earlier agreed to Timor Leste's request to quarantine their nationals from Wuhan in the province, after Bali refused to grant the request.

Viktor had already instructed the director of W.Z. Johannes Regional General Hospital in Kupang to set up a temporary facility at the Naimata Mental Hospital for accommodating the Timor Leste evacuees.

"At that time, our stance was that the NTT provincial administration was ready to facilitate [the quarantine] if the President instructed us to do so," said Marius.

Earlier on Feb. 4, Timor Leste Planning and Strategic Investment Minister Xanana Gusmao said that Dili had requested assistance from Jakarta to quarantine on Bali 17 of its nationals awaiting repatriation from China, citing the lack of facilities in the neighboring country. The Bali administration, however, rejected the request for help.

According to a Feb. 5 report in The Guardian, 17 people from Timor Leste were among the 190 passengers on an Air New Zealand aircraft who had been airlifted from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China. All passengers, excepting Australian citizens, were transferred for two weeks of quarantine at Whangaparoa air base, north of Auckland. (mpr)