The Indian Embassy in Papua New Guinea (PNG) denies police’s allegations that it helped unauthorized passengers, including four people infected with COVID-19, arrive in the Pacific capital, Port Moresby. .
The denial comes on Tuesday after PNG police commissioner David Manning banned all flights from India last week, accusing the Indian government of “deliberately” participating in “deception” that endangers the island’s safety and security. set.
The police chief, who is responsible for PNG’s COVID-19 response, also bans Indonesian Garuda Airlines and Hong Kong’s CapaJet, a charter company, from using the country’s airspace “until further notice”.
The borders of Papua New Guinea have been closed to most travelers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Manning said the country has allowed a repatriation flight to transport 81 passengers from the Indian capital, New Delhi, to Port Moresby. with severe conditions, including negative tests for COVID -19.
But when Garuda Airlines flight GA7610 arrived on August 17, the police chief claimed to have transported three passengers who were not authorized to travel to PNG.
He also said that the Indian government has allowed some passengers to board the plane without a negative COVID-19 test. “This failure meant that the flight brought four individuals to Papua New Guinea infected with COVID-19,” he said.
Through these actions, India has undermined the trust of a friendly nation, Manning said.
“India must respect Papua New Guinea as a sovereign nation and not take part in actions involving unscrupulous people, to violate our laws and to undermine public health and safety measures.”
The Indian embassy has denied the allegations.
‘All foreign passengers on board the aircraft destined for Port Moresby have a valid SOE [State of Emergency] “Approvals, Covid PCR test and vaccination certificates,” the mission told Al Jazeera in a statement.
“Passengers only received tickets after granting the SOE approval, in accordance with the prescribed guidelines set out by the controller.”
It also contains documents, including a flight manifesto containing the 84 passengers, as well as certificates issued by the PNG government, which approved access for all 84 passengers.
CapaJet – which leased the flight from Garuda Airlines – also denies Manning’s allegations.
‘We work with embassies around the world and are very aware of capacity and quotas and everything. This is part of our standard operating procedure, ”says Jay Wan, Operations Director at CapaJet.
“There were no people on the flight who were not at the manifesto. They know the name of everyone who comes, because we sent a letter to David Manning to make sure all access conditions are met and the results of all passengers. He responded very clearly the same day with his approval. If a passenger did not have their approval, we would not have allowed them to board the flight. “
Wan said he was disappointed with Manning’s actions, especially as CapaJet helped repatriate several PNG diplomats on the same flight.
Adam Delaney, a former PNG diplomat who is currently completing doctoral studies at the Australian National University in Canberra, describes Manning’s statement as a diplomatic mistake.
‘It’s not something you do fast – publicly accuse countries, India and Indonesia, which were very good partners for PNG, of acting deceptively. It needs to be addressed very urgently, ”Delaney said.
‘It shows that Manning is under a lot of stress and that the national COVID-19 controller is unable to do his job due to critical shortages of manpower and finances. Consequently, a health problem became a diplomatic matter if it did not have to. “