During the middle of last week, announcements were made for all of the Americans who were in other countries and overseas to plan immediately to return home. Tuesday morning, everyone who is overseas is stuck at the airports and abroad, and they are angry at the State Department. It is a human response to always point the finger of blame, but they need to calm down and look at themselves because everyone was warned.
The State Department is doing all they can to get everyone back home, but it doesn’t seem to the people caught abroad that they are moving fast enough. They are getting angry also at the US embassies.
According to a senior State Department official, there are around 5,700 Americans stuck in 17 different countries set to come home as soon as possible. Over 800 are in the hot spot of Wuhan, China, where the COVID-19 began. Those will be the most difficult to bring back home due to the test results. We cannot let anyone back in the country who has the virus.
There are reported over 300 on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has been docked in Japan for days. Over 4,600 have returned home as of now from the ship. Added numbers are over 600 from Peru and 1,200 from Morocco.
The grand total is around 13,500 Americans who are on a waitlist to return home, according to the senior official. They are waiting at the local US embassies and consulates. In the next five days, 16 flights have been scheduled, and other countries are not giving any more details.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Ian Brownlee is leading a task force with the priority of evacuating those who are more vulnerable to contracting the virus first. The next group to come in will be those who notified ABC News and running out of the bare necessities such as medicines and food.
The senior official delivering the information stated, “I’m hesitant to give a guarantee we can move every single person, especially those in the most remote locations.” They are still urging Americans who can travel commercially to return immediately. The grim story is for many it is too late.
We see people all over the world who defy the orders of authorities. When governments warned people to stay home, they went out to beaches, went to parties, and other gatherings. Those who had the opportunity to come back to the States failed to do so for whatever reason. Now, they have no one but themselves to blame. But that doesn’t stop them.
The official continued to say the only way they can get the people back into America is by using aircraft from the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. These are planes like the Air Force aircraft, which picked up the women’s football team from Honduras along with other people. The DHS planes which deport the illegal immigrants will also be used to bring American citizens home.
The DHS aircraft would be the last resort but is an option. The State Department is wanting everyone to take commercial airlines as it proves to be the “most efficient way.” Funds will directly come for the State Department to get these people back. There is a promissory note for the passengers to pay back the funds. Anyone who does not have the funds at the time of pick up will not be turned away.
“‘ Whole of government’ is a cliche. This is more of a whole of possible effort to get people out,” the official stated. He added, “No option is foreclosed.”
What is making everything difficult is the people waited till the last minute or waited till after the borders were already closed. All authorized flights have to go through the local governments and the US authorities at DHS and the Federal Aviation Administration. Chartered flights from citizens or private companies have been arranged by the US, in addition, to help assist the number of passengers.
One American who is stuck in Honduras stated, “I understand the U.S. is going through a bunch right now, but in our eyes, the fact that they already got a bunch of people out on two C-130’s leaves us asking, ‘Can you just do one or two more trips? As of right now, we really are stuck until the government helps us out.”
With all that is happening, the only thing Americans can do is be patient.