‘Not possible’ to repatriate all Belgians abroad, says Foreign Affairs
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    ‘Not possible’ to repatriate all Belgians abroad, says Foreign Affairs

    Some 30,000 Belgians are currently abroad, according to Goffin. Credit: Belga

    Belgium will not be able to repatriate all Belgians stuck abroad because of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), according to Minister of Foreign Affairs, Philippe Goffin.

    Some 30,000 Belgians are currently abroad, according to Goffin. However, not all of them want to return to Belgium, but Foreign Affairs is looking for solutions for those who do.

    “Our services work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” said Goffin on Radio 1 on Monday morning. “We are aware that some situations are difficult,” he added, referring to, among other things, airlines that have considerably reduced their flights, or countries that have closed their airspace.

    Belgians have already been repatriated from several countries, like Morocco, Tunisia and Senegal. Travellers in the Canary Islands will be repatriated over the course of the week.

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    The Ministry has also launched a Facebook page, “to facilitate contact between our compatriots abroad.” The aim is to start concrete and creative initiatives by connecting people who are stuck, as well as provide an alternate way to contact the Belgian Foreign Affairs department.

    For some countries, it is going to be “difficult,” according to Goffin, referring to people stuck in Peru, Mexico, and Nepal, and asks the travellers for patience. People wanting to return can always contact the local embassies.

    However, a solution will not be found for everyone wanting to return, the Minister said. “Unfortunately, in some cases, that will not be possible, we have to be honest about that,” he said.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times