WASHINGTON — An estimated 13,500 Americans overseas have requested the State Department for assist returning to the United States because the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in closed borders and suspended industrial flights, two senior officers stated Monday.
About 5,700 further U.S. residents and authorized residents have already been introduced again on flights organized by the State Department, the officers stated.
From Peru to Morocco to Japan, stranded Americans have pleaded for assist getting residence because the pandemic has unfold. Over the subsequent 5 days, the State Department will constitution 16 flights all over the world to convey residence one other 1,600 folks, stated one of many officers, who spoke to reporters on situation of anonymity due to division protocols on briefing the information media.
About 10 million American residents reside overseas, officers stated. But the officers urged Americans who’ve properties abroad to contemplate hunkering down, underscoring that the journey help was designed for vacationers and momentary expatriates, like college students.
Those Americans ought to attempt to return to the United States earlier than all industrial flights are shut down, the official stated. There was nonetheless room on among the flights this week for added passengers, stated the official, who urged Americans to register on the division’s travel enrollment system for information.
But scores of traveling Americans, including a group of medical students stranded in Peru, said they had yet to receive any help from the United States government.
Still others said the State Department planned to cancel the passports of travelers if they did not pay for their tickets home — even though they had not been told how much the chartered airfare would cost.
“Repatriation flights are not free,” read a notice that American citizens in Ghana said they received from the U.S. Embassy in Accra. “Your U.S. passport will be canceled pending loan repayment arrangements. You will not be permitted to renew your passport until you’ve arranged a repayment plan with the Department of State.”
Tiffany Dillard, who has been in Ghana for a brief visit while traveling abroad as an English teacher, has struggled to leave since the United States advised Americans last week to come home or stay put.
She said she was apprehensive that her passport could be canceled. “That just makes me nervous anytime someone messes with my passport any way,” Ms. Dillard, a Milwaukee native, said in an interview on Monday. She said she was also considering staying in Ghana.
A spokeswoman at the State Department in Washington did not have an immediate comment when asked about the notice to cancel stranded Americans’ passports.
Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged President Trump on Monday to “provide Americans overseas the support that they need” during what he called an “unprecedented pandemic.”
“No American should ever have to worry that they might be abandoned abroad by our government,” Mr. Menendez wrote in a letter to Mr. Trump.
The senior State Department officials said that in some cases, foreign governments had imposed restrictions to contain the virus that prevented American flights from departing.
One of the officials said that had been the case in Peru, where 15 students from Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina who were training to be paramedics and physician assistants were trying to leave.
The official said fewer flights were able to fly in and out of Peru because the international airport in Lima, the capital, had been shut down for the duration of the country’s quarantine. That means flights have had to fly through military airports, which do not have the capacity to manage all the additional air traffic.
More than 100 Americans who were stranded aboard the Silver Shadow cruise liner in Recife, Brazil, for more than a week returned to the United States early Monday, landing in Dallas. The Americans were the last group of 315 passengers from 18 countries to fly home from the stricken ship.
Earlier in the month, the passengers had been restricted to their rooms after a Canadian passenger fell ill and tested positive for the coronavirus. Beginning a few days ago, most of the countries with citizens aboard the Silver Shadow chartered aircraft and flew them home.
In addition to the State Department’s chartered flights, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security are also flying Americans back to the United States on government aircraft, the official said.
On Sunday, Global Guardian, an international security firm, evacuated 144 Americans who were stranded in Honduras. The company arranged for a plane to fly to the island of Roatán after getting permission from the Honduran government.
“I cannot begin to express my gratitude to the entire Global Guardian team for getting my husband and I home safely to our families and lives here in Boston,” Annie Perlick, a nurse at Boston Children’s Hospital, said in a statement.
The United States military said last week it had evacuated 89 Americans out of Honduras.
Lara Jakes reported from Washington and Ashley Southall from New York. Eric Schmitt and Adam Goldman contributed reporting from Washington.