Palau. In January, the United States promised a $ 250 million aid package to Palau. According to COUNTRYAAH, Palau has a population of 17,907 (2018). The money would be distributed annually until 2024. For 2010, $ 20 million was paid. President Johnson Toribiong denied that the aid had any connection to Palau receiving in November 2009 six Chinese Uighurs who had been imprisoned at the US military base Guantánamo in Cuba. The men had been released from crime suspicions as early as 2005, but it took time for the United States to find countries that could receive them. The Uighurs are a Muslim minority in China, but the US did not want to send them back because it is suspected that they would be subjected to torture there. Palau has given the Uyghurs a sanctuary pending the possibility of settling permanently in any other country, such as Australia, where more Uyghurs live. The president said in February that Palau was prepared to also receive the five Uighurs who were still left at the Guantánamo base. The United States is responsible for Palau’s costs for taking care of the Uighurs. In June, the Uighurs applied to be relocated to permanent homes and the authorities would try to get Australia to accept them.
Under the Compact of Free Association, the United States has since 1982 provided Palau with financial support against having military bases in the country. The United States has also handled Palau’s defense. In the autumn of 2009, the annual aid agreement expired and would be replaced by a fund built up with American money. However, with the new relief package, the free association agreement was extended to 2024. The agreement was signed by both parties in Hawaii in early September.
During the year, Palau introduced a ban on chewing betel nuts and smoking in certain workplaces. According to Health Minister Stevenson Kuartei, who was behind the ban, reduced betel chewing and reduced tobacco smoking would give people better teeth, better breath and reduced risk of cancer. In June, public-sector nurses were forced to quit, and in October, bans were imposed on all staff in public hospitals and clinics.