PRESS RELEASE 065
Ministry of Foreign Affairs to complete repatriation of Spaniards on close to 50 flights
30/04/2020

​The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation will complete the operations over the coming days to repatriate Spaniards who were travelling abroad and got taken by surprise by the strict restrictions applied due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the arrival of close to 50 flights chartered by the Spanish authorities.

After flights arrived this week from Argentina, Paraguay and Ecuador, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation will close off the repatriation phase with operations scheduled from Australia, Colombia, Thailand, Bolivia, Morocco, Chile, Costa Rica/Nicaragua and Gambia. There will foreseeably be an additional three flights, currently under consideration, which would bring the total number of Spaniards repatriated and assisted since the state of emergency was decreed to more than 25,000.

Pursuant to European Union recommendations shared by most European partners, Spain focused during this phase on a specific group considered to be the most vulnerable as they lacked support abroad, made up of Spanish tourists and travellers who were taken by surprise overseas by restrictions on mobility, the closure of hotels and flight cancellations.

In little over a month, most of the Spaniards travelling overseas that heeded the recommendations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and decided to reschedule their trip to return to Spain managed to get back thanks to the assistance provided by the Spanish network of embassies and consular offices.

After the completion of these operations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation will have culminated the process of repatriation and assistance to travellers, benefitting more than 25,000 Spaniards of which, according to our estimates, a total of 11,000 were in Europe, 9,000 in Latin America, 3,000 in Africa and the Middle East and some 2,000 in the Asia Pacific region.

These repatriations have required a major human and budgetary effort, and have included continuous analyses of the situation in each country, ongoing contact with Spanish travellers, the dissemination of information on alternative arrangements to return, the organisation of repatriation flights facilitated, guaranteed or chartered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the relocation of travellers on third-party flights, among other noteworthy actions.

These operations have been coordinated through the General Directorate of Consular Services and Spaniards Overseas, and arranged by the network of Spanish embassies and consular offices, with some 4,500 professionals deployed to cater for the demands of all those Spaniards who wished to return to Spain. The hotline of the Emergency Unit has also remained active 24 hours a day, which has been permanently manned by up to 140 people on occasions and which, since 10 March, has attended to a total of 51,395 phone calls.

In parallel, and given the impossibility for many of those waiting for the chance to return to Spain of finding accommodation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation set up the ‘Aloja’ platform, which helped those looking for accommodation and Spaniards resident abroad to get in touch with each other to find them a temporary solution to their situation. Since its start-up, this platform has registered 474 people offering accommodation and 557 seeking accommodation. This platform will remain active.

The situation now calls for a new phase in consular assistance, not focused on people returning but on facilitating Spaniards staying in their current location while awaiting the eventual resumption of ordinary international communications. In line with the actions by other European countries, such as Germany, which have now announced the suspension of their repatriation flights, or reduced them drastically, Spain will only schedule future flights on an exceptional basis.

The network of embassies and consular offices will keep all their channels open to facilitate any information that may affect Spaniards abroad, as well as all its services active, particularly for those in a vulnerable situation. The Consular Emergency Unit will keep its hotline open 24 hours a day, on +34913948900, to resolve any queries Spaniards abroad may have.

 

-NON OFFICIAL TRANSLATION-

 

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