Almost a hundred Filipinos are stranded in Europe and Africa after 14 countries from these regions were placed on the Philippines’ “red list” amid the threat of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola said at least 50 Filipinos are stranded in Europe, where seven countries are under the red list, namely Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy.
In Africa, at least 49 Filipinos are stranded. South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique were the first countries to be covered by the temporary travel ban after the highly mutated strain was first reported in the region.
Arriola said the government is organizing repatriation flights in Europe for December 10 and 13, but it is having a harder time doing so in South Africa because most transit countries do not want to accept flights from there.
“What we really need at the moment is for Filipinos to coordinate with our embassies so we can help you. We are appealing to our kababayans to contact your embassies or consulates,” she said.
“Most of these are Bayanihan special repatriation flights. Some of them will have to board commercial flights that will be tagged as Bayanihan flights,” Arriola said.
Arriola said two of its posts in Europe are in talks with a Dutch airline company to facilitate a Bayanihan flight for December 13 with the Netherlands as the possible transit point.
Except for Filipinos returning via special repatriation and Bayanihan flights, all inbound international travelers from these 14 countries in Europe and South Africa are barred from entering the Philippines.