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Getting home in the time of Covid

7 April 2020

As the coronavirus pandemic started spreading across the world, many countries reacted quickly by closing their countries off in the hope of curbing its spread. Numerous airports were closed and flights grounded leaving many foreigners all over the world stuck in places, unable to return home.

Photo: Mr Nedilson Jorge, Ambassador of Brazil in South Africa with compatriots and SAA crew members at OR Tambo International Airport before the first repatriation flight

South Africa locked the country down on 27 March 2020 for 21 days closing all ports of entry. Diplomatic missions in South Africa have been liaising with their citizens stranded here and negotiating with the South African government on the ways in which these tourists can get back home.

Mr Nedilson Jorge, Ambassador of Brazil in South Africa was first to successfully arrange a repatriation flight for Brazilians and other South Americans on board a Latam flight that left OR Tambo International airport on 1 April 2020. On 6 April a South African Airways flight chartered by the Brazilian government flew out more stranded Brazilians bringing the total number repatriated to over 550.

Upon return the SAA flight will bring home South Africans stranded in South America who are able to reach Guarulhos Airport in Sao Paulo and have registered with the South African Embassy in Brazil.

Dr Martin Schafer, Ambassador of Germany to South Africa, overcoming immense logistical challengers, was also successfully able to arrange repatriation flights for Germans as well as members of the European Union. It is estimated that there are between 7000 and 9000 Germans stranded in South Africa.

The first of a series of flights left South Africa on 3 April 2020 and carried 600 passengers on board a South African Airways chartered aircraft. Dr Schafer also offered assistance to South Africans stranded in Europe to return home on these aircraft.

For the many Britons stranded in South Africa, Mr Nigel Casey, High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to South Africa has also been hard at work trying to overcome the restrictions imposed by the lockdown rules to repatriate his citizens. An arrangement was reached with Virgin Atlantic to run a series of flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg starting on 9 April 2020.

There are many people stranded all over the world and the advice to those is to contact their relative embassies for arrangements on repatriation.




February/March 2020








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