COVID-19: Those expats who are stranded abroad

  • girl at the airport
Published 2020-03-23 09:25

While most countries in the world have imposed strict travel restrictions, with some closing their borders until further notice, thousands of foreigners are currently stranded abroad. Impossible, for some, to go back home and escape the global health crisis. Hard for others to stay away from their loved ones during this period. Some of them have shared their feelings with

Shina is a Mauritian expat living in the USA on a J-1 visa. She was supposed to return to Mauritius in June 2020. Given the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic around the world, she decides to go back home at the earliest to be with her family. However, destiny had other plans for her. First, her flight gets cancelled due to a small earthquake. "In the meantime, the Mauritian government announced the closure of its borders, even to Mauritians who are abroad." She had no choice but to stay. "They should have taken all the necessary measures to ensure that Mauritians who are abroad can return home safely. We weren't expecting this, "she says. To make matters worse, the hotel she was working for closed its doors until April 30, due to the pandemic. Shina is currently unemployed and is finding it hard to support herself. "The only thing I can do now is to wait for these restrictions to be lifted so that I can finally go back home."

Richard is a French national who is currently stranded in the Dominican Republic with his wife. Even though they had planned to go back to France in April, it’s very less likely they will be able to do so, given the travel restrictions not only in Europe but also the rest of the world. "Unfortunately, the airline company that we were supposed to fly with has taken no steps to repatriate people. There is no effort, including at the government”. He adds that "this extension of stay is going to cost us a lot”.

Philippe, a Belgian expat who is currently working in Ghana, agrees that the travel restrictions are, without a doubt, hard to bear. "There are barely twenty cases in Ghana while my whole family is in full confinement in Belgium". He also recognises that any attempt to go back home would be a significant risk. "There is a major risk of being contaminated at the airport or on the plane. Why should I take this risk or make my family take risks by bringing them near me? It’s a big NO, even if the heart finds it hard to understand". Philippe also insists that to stop the pandemic, everyone should stay at home and wait. “For my part, besides praying that nothing will happen to my wife and children, I can just continue to work and take the maximum sanitary precautions ”.

Philippe's views are shared by Jessica, a British TEFL teacher in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. She was also planning to go back home in April. However, she agrees that the current situation in Saudi Arabia is not as alarming as in Europe or the USA. "I would definitely love to be with my family, but this would mean taking a huge risk, not only for me but also for those around me. In the meantime, I will stay put in Saudi Arabia, until it's safe to make travel arrangements," she says. For Jessica, more people should consider others first and not themselves at this critical time.