Dirco to brief on COVID-19 repatriations

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International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, is expected to brief media on the repatriation of stranded South Africans abroad amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The virtual briefing is expected to take place on Thursday at 9am.

The briefing comes as South Africans stranded in Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Morocco, Côte d'Ivoire and Congo returned home on Sunday, 17 May.

Earlier this month, South African Airways (SAA) reassured customers and stakeholders that it would continue to operate repatriation and cargo flights during the month of May and beyond.

The national carrier has received several requests for repatriation flights to operate to North, West and East Africa the UK, the Middle East, South and North America, and the Far East during the course of this month that are being considered by the airline.

“We are in ongoing discussions with the Departments of Public Enterprises (DPE) and that of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), regarding other destinations where South African citizens may be stranded. Further, we are responding proactively in those instances where there is a need for essential humanitarian cargo for our country and for the neighbouring states to be uplifted,” said interim SAA Executive Chairperson Thandeka Mgoduso at the time.

Since 3 April 2020, the airline had transported more than 9 100 passengers to six continents and more than 870 tons of freight, both export and import consignments, which included essential humanitarian cargo.

In April, Dirco said efforts to ensure the repatriation of South Africans stranded abroad are continuing.

“Negotiations are ongoing with countries and other stakeholders to allow stranded South Africans to travel,” said the department at the time.

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