The DA has called on the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) to use its budget to help repatriate South Africans stranded abroad during the global Covid-19 pandemic.
In a written parliamentary question, the party’s deputy spokesperson for International Relations, Mergan Chetty, pointed out that the department reportedly spends an average of R28 million per South African mission annually, and the party said this could, instead, be used for repatriations.
“Dirco must utilise this budget for foreign missions at this critical time when these foreign missions are needed most for stranded citizens. These citizens have paid for service delivery in their hour of need and Dirco must front up,” DA Abroad leader Dr Rory Jubber said in a statement on Saturday.
In addition, the party will be monitoring the treatment stranded South Africans receive from the department, Jubber said, and will make public information from those who have already been repatriated.
The DA estimates that between 3,750 to 4,250 South African citizens have been repatriated, saying that “many more remain stranded and are appealing to Dirco”.covigene
“Some of those still stranded have no means of support, no place to stay and are running short of money, food, and medication. They are in countries where they have no knowledge of the language and are bereft of support and denied information,” said Jubber.
“Getting them back is complicated by the airport regulations imposed by the Department of Transport and uncertainties over the availability of air transport. They have been given minimal support from many South African diplomatic missions run by Dirco – some of which have been totally unsympathetic to their dire situation.”
According to a repatriation circular by Dirco published on Monday, since 26 March 2020, it has facilitated the repatriation by air of more than 3,000 South Africans stranded abroad.
An estimated 4,500 South Africans found themselves stranded, according to a Dirco circular published on 27 April.