Coronavirus: Hundreds flown back to Belgium from Latin America

Coronavirus: Hundreds flown back to Belgium from Latin America
Credit: PhGoffin/Twitter

A flight carrying hundreds of Belgian and EU citizens landed in Brussels on Wednesday in a complex repatriation operation from Latin American led by Belgian authorities.

The chartered Air Belgium flight brought back 255 people from Ecuador and Peru, Foreign Affairs Minister Philippe Goffin wrote on Twitter.

Half of the passengers were Belgian nationals while the remaining ones were citizens of 18 other EU countries.

Organising their return was a “complex operation” which Belgium completed with the support of Spain, the Netherlands and France, the Foreign Affairs Ministry tweeted.

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The returnees were among hundreds of others that have been flown back to Belgium as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread throughout the world.

On 10 April, the ministry said 280 Belgians and some 30 EU nationals had been already flown back to Europe in a flight also chartered by Belgium.

Efforts to bring back Belgians and EU citizens from several other countries including Bogota, Thailand, Honduras, Panama and the Democratic Republic of Congo were also announced at that date.

Belgium has been employing digital tools and social media to assess the needs of country nationals that have found themselves stranded abroad, as a slew of countries across the world tightened border and travel regulations.

A ministry-ran Facebook group aims to put Belgians who are in the same country or region in contact with each other and potentially coordinate a collective return.

Several members aiming to reach another destination by car have turned to the group to offer free spaces in their vehicles, and members also use the group to thank embassy personnel for their assistance or to ask for advice.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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