Stranded British-Arabs grow weary of overseas coronavirus limbo, as UK pledges more rescue flights

Stranded British-Arabs grow weary of overseas coronavirus limbo, as UK pledges more rescue flights
Shortly before the UK government announced new rescue efforts for stranded nationals, Arab UK citizens told The New Arab of the difficulties they faced being stuck overseas.
2 min read
31 March, 2020
The UK announced arrangements with airlines to rescue Britons stranded in foreign countries [Getty]
The UK on Monday unveiled arrangements with airlines to rescue hundreds of thousands of Britons stranded overseas due to coronavirus-era flight suspensions.

For British-Arab stuck abroad, it remain uncertain when they will be able to return home due to restrictions in their host countries and a slow UK government response, The New Arab's Arabic-language website reported on Sunday.

The UK's Foreign Office announced up to £75 million funding for commercial airlines to return UK nationals home from "priority countries".

"Where commercial routes remain an option, airlines will be responsible for getting passengers home. That means offering alternative flights, at little to no cost, where routes have been cancelled," said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab at a Monday press briefing.

Prior to the announcement, weary stranded British-Arabs spoke to The New Arab said they had found little solace in their government's plans.

British-Jordanian journalist Dalal Jebril, who is stuck in Jordan with her two children, told The New Arab she had to cancel her flight home, scheduled for 28 March, after learning that flights to the UK were suspended.

"We began tracking news of any evacuation trips for British citizens, including one coordinated by the British embassy and others," she said. "But the prices for those trips were not free, rather very expensive."

Hanan, a British-Egyptian woman stranded in Egypt, told The New Arab that the British embassy referred her to a private tourism agency, which sold airplane tickets for around £650. They also only allowed one piece of luggage weighing 23 kilograms.

When she tried an Egyptian airline to return home, she was told to wait until mid-April and call back.

Unwilling to pay additional fees, she is still waiting for the opportunity to contact the airline.

Ahmed Al-Edwan, a Palestinian-British national, said he was stuck in the West Bank after Israeli authorities closed the King Hussein Bridge crossing to Jordan.

Yara, a Lebanese university student who is studying in the UK, is stuck in Dubai, unable to return to either Lebanon or England.

The UK's Foreign Office said charter flights are already "up and running" to Ghana and Tunisia.

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