Monday, January 18, 2021

Guyanese stranded overseas continuing to plead for flights home

Guyanese stranded abroad are continuing to plead with the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) to grant approval for their return home.
Guyana’s airspace has been closed to commercial flights since March 19 in a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
However, citizens marooned abroad have been calling on the NCTF to grant approval for the opening of the airspace like other countries have been doing to allow their citizens to return home.
Citizens who have been stranded for the past nine weeks have also raised objections over the NCTF allowing ExxonMobil’s workers to enter while ignoring their request to return home.
A Guyanese citizen, who asked not to be named and who has been stuck in Canada whilst vacationing in March, on Friday told this newspaper that she and many other Guyanese including students wish to return home.
She said that since the airports have been closed, Guyanese who are stranded were asked to make contact with the embassy.
“For the past nine weeks I have been calling the embassy trying to find out if we can return home but there has been no positive answer. The embassy has informed me that many persons have been calling in too and asking when they can return home. People are running out of places to stay and it is becoming burdensome and frustrating,” the woman said.
Asked if she was aware of the last flight out of Canada to Guyana, she responded in the positive but explained that she was unable to make the flight.
“I couldn’t have made it in time to the airport when I heard of it but I didn’t fight up because they had said it was only for two weeks. But now it is going to nine weeks since the airport has been closed and it is just getting more frustrating every day”, she lamented, before explaining that because she is confined to home all day and since COVID-19 is also prevalent in Canada the situation is also mentally taxing.
“There are a lot of Guyanese here who want to return home because they are more at risk of getting COVID here than at home. I just came for two weeks’ vacation but now I am stuck. I am pleading with the government and those who are in charge to consider a special flight for us, we just want to come home,” the woman implored.
Meanwhile, the group of Royal Caribbean cruise ship workers, who are stranded on several cruise ships have also renewed their calls to the NCTF to grant permission for a chartered flight home.
A group of approximately 70 Guyanese have been stranded on board different cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean for the past nine weeks.
None of the crew members have been in contact with any passengers since the cruise line halted its operations.
This newspaper understands that the workers have made multiple enquiries at different government agencies, including the NCTF, but to date they have only been told that the airports are closed and as a result they will not be able to return home.
The workers informed this newspaper that the CEO of the Cruise line, Michael Bayley has informed them that they are endeavouring to have all workers returned home.
“There will be changes, I’m sure, some of them last-minute. But we won’t stop our efforts until we get you home. I hope you know that, even from a distance, your colleagues around the world feel for you, care for your welfare, and are wishing you strength and endurance,” Bayley informed workers.
Anthony Argyle recently related that it is disappointing to see the Guyanese government not giving their concerns any attention.
“Other governments are opening their borders but our government doesn’t seem to care for us. Why is it our government is so selfish and heartless?” he questioned.
The NCTF said recently that they have received numerous requests from persons to return home and that it has been discussed but no final decision has been taken.

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