There are calls for more to be done to support East Renfrewshire residents stranded abroad as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

East Renfrewshire MP Kirsten Oswald said around 40 of her constituents found themselves stuck in various countries around the world when the pandemic led to borders being closed and airlines cancelling flights.

She told the Barrhead News local people were left stranded as far away as Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, India and Honduras, with others unable to leave cruise ships.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has partnered with a number of airlines to help repatriate British citizens, with some residents able to return to East Renfrewshire.

However, others who remain stranded have contacted Ms Oswald’s office to seek help.

She said: “The stress people have experienced has been immense.

“There are families worried sick about elderly relatives trapped overseas with critical medication running out and no way to get more.

“There have been key workers, including NHS staff, trying their hardest to get home to help in our hospitals. Some people have paid many thousands of pounds over the odds to get home.

“Some have managed to return home after being in the presence of others with Covid-19 and have arrived in the UK to be met by no health checks and no health guidance.”

Ms Oswald said those still stranded had been left without support and guidance from the FCO.

She added: “It is very disheartening and frustrating for people to see on the news that they will be helped to return home but to then find the reality is quite different.

“Too often, we have heard of embassies and consulates that are closed and people being directed to call a London number.

“When I asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab about repatriation in Westminster recently and asked him to work with other countries to get people home, he assured me that he would do so.

“I see precious little evidence of this and serious action is needed now for the people who are still trapped.”

Ms Oswald said she has written to the Foreign Secretary, contacted the FCO and will continue pushing all avenues until East Renfrewshire residents are home.

A spokeswoman for the FCO said: “We recognise British tourists abroad are finding it difficult to return to the UK because of the unprecedented international travel and domestic restrictions that are being introduced around the world, often with very little or no notice.

“The government has partnered with a number of airlines who have committed to work together to get Brits back to the UK and there is up to £75million has been made available for charter flights where commercial options are no longer available. We’ll continue working around the clock to bring people home.”


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