Coronavirus: Belgium brought home over 9,000 people since onset
Tuesday, 19 May 2020
Over 9,000 people, including 7,750 Belgians, were brought home to Belgium since the start of the new coronavirus pandemic, Minister of Foreign Affairs Philippe Goffin told the House Committee on Tuesday.
The Federal Public Foreign Affairs Service (FPS Foreign Affairs) organised 47 flights. A third of those came from Morocco, Goffin said.
An additional 2,430 Belgians benefitted from a return guaranteed by another European country organised on the basis of a community civil protection agreement.
“Europe has functioned and has enabled European nationals to return home,” Goffin said.
Goffin also praised the work of the FPS Foreign Affairs staff who have done a “colossal job” in carrying out these repatriations.
He acknowledged, however, that not all Belgians scattered all over the world could be brought back home.
Asked by several MEPs about the repatriations from Morocco, Goffin rejected any criticism as to their implementation. A total of 3,050 Belgians were repatriated on 7 flights from Morocco between 18 March and 15 May.
Goffin also noted the negotiations with his Moroccan counterpart concerning the return of dual nationals. After an agreement on humanitarian and social criteria, Morocco finally approved lists of people who could leave the country.
However, the minister acknowledged that there were still people stranded in Morocco who want to return home. “Repatriation operations will continue on the basis of the same criteria and lists if we manage to obtain commercial flights,” he assured.