Dozens of Southwark residents including GP are still stranded abroad as £75m repatriation plans are announced

Katherine Johnston (30 March, 2020)

GP and man with multiple sclerosis are among those desperate to return

35313Picture of the coronavirus

Dozens of people from Southwark are among the tens of thousands still struck abroad due to lockdowns, quarantines, flight cancellations and price rises.

Harriet Harman says at least 26 of her Camberwell and Peckham constituents are trying to get back to the UK including a Southwark GP ‘desperate’ to return to work.

Eight are in New Zealand, with others in countries including Peru and Morocco.

Harman says the hotline set up to help those in need of repatriation is ‘not answering’ and emails are either receiving generic replies in response, or nothing at all.  One, a man with multiple sclerosis, is in New Zealand and running out of medication.

On March 23, the Foreign Office said all travellers should ‘return now’ due to daily border closures, flight cancellations and domestic restrictions being imposed.

Today foreign secretary Dominic Raab announced the government was partnering with airlines including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic to charter flights for tens of thousands of people in a £75 million government-subsidised scheme.  He urged anyone who can still book a flight to do so – as they will be able to switch providers at no extra cost.

The first British people to return from Peru landed in London over the weekend, with 170 elderly and at risk travellers prioritised.

“This is a worrying time for many British citizens travelling abroad,” Raab said.

“We’ve already worked with airlines and governments to enable hundreds of thousands to return home on commercial flights, and we will keep as many of those options open as possible.

“Where commercial flights are not possible, we will build on the earlier charter flights we organised back from China, Japan, Cuba, Ghana and Peru.

“The arrangements agreed today will provide a clearer basis to organise special charter flights where Britons find themselves stranded. Our priority will always be the most vulnerable.”

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