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Remaining residents on their way home: MFAI

Tuesday 17 October 2023 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Local, National


Remaining residents on their way home: MFAI
Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Tepaeru Herrmann. 23101352

The remaining Cook Islands residents who were stranded in Jerusalem have made it out of Israel as the Israel-Hamas war rages on.

Head of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Tepaeru Herrmann yesterday told Cook Islands News: “All 28 Cook Islanders and Cook Islands residents (including Fijian passport holders) are no longer in Israel having exited via Tel Aviv and entered Abu Dhabi to await connecting flights.”

“Some continue their onwards travel to Rarotonga via Abu Dhabi, others Dubai.”

MFAI is continuing to work through diplomatic channels to support the return to Rarotonga of all 28 residents although with all 28 having exited Tel Aviv, “our efforts have been paired back”.

“Those efforts were undertaken in close collaboration with the prior mentioned governments as well as the governments of Fiji and the United Arab Emirates including the Emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.”

Read more:

 > Cook Islanders in Israel: ‘We are safe and well’

Cook Islanders on their way home: Remaining 28 to depart Israel on Friday

Church Talk: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem

> MFAI secures seat on NZ flight to bring home remaining residents  

There were reports that Fijian passport holders had some issues getting into Dubai due to visa requirement.

Herrmann said: “The Fiji Government, through their mission in Abu Dhabi has engaged directly with Fiji passport holders in the group to support entry visas into Abu Dhabi and onwards travel to Rarotonga.”

“Onwards return travel beyond Abu Dhabi to Rarotonga varies within the group of 28. As far as we’re aware, most reconnect with their prior travel plans via Dubai/Auckland or Abu Dhabi/Asia.

“We understand most will likely arrive back into Rarotonga over the next couple of days.”

On Friday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration said it had secured seats on a New Zealand Government assisted Etihad Airways flight to bring home the remaining Cook Islands residents. The NZ government secured 90 seats on the first flight to assist New Zealand and Pacific people to leave Israel.

Herrmann earlier said they were working closely with its mission in Wellington, and the New Zealand Government via missions in Rarotonga and Ankarra and governments of Israel, Korea and Australia to ensure the early and safe return of the residents.

The residents were part of the 48-member team that visited Jerusalem to observe the Feast of the Tabernacle when Palestinian terror group Hamas launched a large-scale deadly attack on Saturday, October 7. A group of 20 Cook Islanders managed to fly out of Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport earlier last week and have arrived home.