OFFICIAL STATEMENT 031
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, activates European Civil Protection Mechanism to facilitate return of 400 Spanish tourists from Central America
24/03/2020
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation has decided to activate the European Civil Protection Mechanism to undertake an operation in Central America to allow the departure of 400 Spanish tourists stuck in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras along with 50 other Europeans with no alternative or possibility of finding any other means of commercial transport to embark on their return to Spain.

This measure, which has been adopted on an exceptional basis and due to the impossibility of alternative means to facilitate the return of those Spanish citizens who have been taken by surprise by this COVID-19 crisis, will be implemented by chartering a flight from the operator WamosAir which will leave Guatemala, bound for Madrid, on 26 March which will stop over in El Salvador and then Honduras before finally departing for Spain, where it is expected to land in the early hours of Saturday with the 400 Spanish citizens aboard. A Spanish diplomat from the crisis unit will accompany these passengers to ensure that this operation goes smoothly.
 
This is the first time that Spain has activated this European Civil Protection Mechanism for repatriation purposes. It will be carried out according to certain action protocols in which other EU countries will be involved, together with local authorities from those areas where Spanish tourists have been unable to return to Spain, due to the communications shut-down and the impossibility of finding alternatives for their departure.
 
Meanwhile, the 215 Spanish overseas representations continue to step up their efforts to find solutions to assist Spanish tourists with problems in finding ways to return to Spain. As such, the ministerial crisis unit continues to work in close collaboration with leading airlines, travel agencies and transport providers, along with other European partners to organise the return of Spanish and Europeans citizens.
 
In this way, and provided that the difficult circumstances and severe restrictions being imposed by countries so permit, the return home of around a thousand other Spanish tourists is expected over the coming days by means of the following connections: 

24 March:
On Tuesday, a Lithuanian charter flight took off from Bali with 39 Spanish citizens on board bound for Alicante (with a stop-over in Vilnius). Furthermore, as a result of the efforts of the Spanish Embassy in Jakarta, the airline Qatar Airways announced that it was making more seats available on its planes to allow more Spanish citizens to leave over the next few days. 

As planned, a ferry will set sail from Civitavecchia for Barcelona on Tuesday, with over 200 Spanish passengers confirmed on-board. 
 
An Iberian flight is also expected to leave on Tuesday from Dakar, carrying 200 Spanish citizens, along with other Spaniards from Guinea Bissau.

On Tuesday, the last six Spanish tourists that remain in Jordon will be on a flight to Spain, with a stop-over in Munich.

25 March:
A special Iberia flight will leave Lima for Madrid carrying between 250 and 300 passengers, out of a thousand Spanish tourists who are still in Peru. 

On Wednesday, a special Iberia flight will also leave Santo Domingo bound for Madrid with room for 288 passengers.​

26 March:
A special charter flight will fly from Caracas to Madrid to evacuate Spaniards and other Europeans on Thursday, 26 March, arriving in Spain on Friday, 27 March. For the time being, 136 out of the 376 passengers on-board will be Spanish.
 
Similarly, the Spanish embassies and consulates continue their efforts to organise special new flights to allow the return of the remaining Spanish tourists that are stuck in Latin America, Asia, Oceania, Africa and the rest of Europe, whether by airlines, through collaboration with European partners or through the activation of the European Civil Protection Mechanism.
 
Furthermore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation recommends that the 2.7 million Spaniards who permanently reside abroad remain in their places of residence, follow the advice of local authorities and respect such quarantine rules as may be decreed. 

With regard to the foreign tourists currently in Spain, the ministry is endeavouring to speed up the return to their countries of origin. To achieve this, they are receiving the collaboration of the foreign embassies whose diplomats are exempt from the restrictions on the freedom of movement contained in the state of emergency, precisely to be able to assist their compatriots.



-NON OFFICIAL TRANSLATION-​
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