Canadians stuck abroad beg for government help amid coronavirus chaos
TORONTO -- Canadians stuck abroad, trapped under strict foreign border closures, say they have received no consular assistance or information about repatriation despite “begging” the government for help.
“Some of us are running out of medication… [we have] two little children waiting at home,” Masha Andreeva, a Canadian trapped in Lima, Peru, told CTV News.
Andreeva is one of hundreds of Canadians stuck in Peru after the country issued a nationwide state of emergency on March 15. The sweeping restrictions prevent people from travelling in or out of the country, and impose a strict curfew between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.
More than 500 Canadians have since joined a Facebook group called “Canadians Stuck in Peru,” where they exchange information about the lockdown.
“There are police and military vehicles in the streets right now, it’s insanity,” Andreeva said.
Other stranded Canadian travellers have reported similar experiences, citing poor communication and a lack of consular assistance.
Laura Nikhamki says her 12- and 16-year-old children are part of a larger Toronto-area judo team stranded in eastern Ukraine.
“We are begging for something to be done immediately,” Nikhamki told CTV News.
“It could be four weeks, eight weeks… we don’t know anything and that’s so scary.”
McGill University professor Anthony Williams-Jones, travelling in Morocco with five students, told CTV News they were “left to their own devices” after speaking to the Canadian embassy.
A petition started by Williams-Jones calling on the government to mobilize “whatever means possible” to repatriate Canadians has since received more than 14,000 signatures.
“While we welcome the recommendations of the Federal and provincial governments that are encouraging Canadians to come home, we deplore the fact that our fellow citizens are being left to their own devices,” reads the petition.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Thursday that consular support is being provided to people in Peru and Morocco, echoing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s sentiment that the government is “working urgently” to help Canadians get home.
However, Trudeau previously acknowledged that it could take weeks for some Canadians to return home.
The federal government has also offered financial assistance for Canadian travellers, offering emergency loans of up to $5,000 to help them come back home, which many note isn’t helpful for Canadians stuck overseas if there are no flights leaving the country.