FSM seeks cancellation of Christmas Drop due to Covid concerns

The Pacific Air Force Command has announced that the U.S. and Japan are set to kick off Operation Christmas Drop 2020 from Andersen Air Force Base on Dec. 5, but the Federated States of Micronesia will ask the U.S. government to skip its four states due to Covid-19 concerns.

Richard Clark, spokesman for the Office of the FSM President, said a diplomatic note will be sent to the U.S. Embassy in Pohnpei on Tuesday to ask for the cancellation of the humanitarian airdrop for Micronesia.

Clark said the request for the military mission's cancellation initially came from Yap. "They sent a letter to the national government asking if they could not engage in any operation this year. The national government then reached out to other states and they also asked if we can cancel the Operation Christmas Drop this year," he said.

FSM, which has adopted strict preventive measures, is one of the few countries in the world that remain coronavirus-free and marked "low risk" by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Its borders remain closed until Jan. 31, 2021, according to a press release from the FSM government.

In seeking the cancellation of Operation Christmas Drop 2020, Clark said officials from the four states have raised concerns about the Covid-19 outbreak in the Republic of Marshall Islands involving military personnel. Marshall Islands lost its coronavirus-free status after two service members at the U.S. military base on Kwajalein Atoll tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving from Hawaii.

Clark said the official request for the humanitarian airlift's cancellation in FSM will be officially announced Tuesday.

On Nov. 26, Yap Gov. Henry Falan wrote to FSM Foreign Affairs Secretary Kandhi Elieisar seeking to scrap the Operation Christmas Drop in his state based on the Council of Tamol's recommendation.