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REACTION to the UK FCO email sent to around 7000(3) stranded Brits in Pakistan AND breaking news that Pakistan has renewed a ban on all foreign commercial airlines.
We're outraged our Government is not getting us home on subsidised flights after losing thousands of pounds. Many travelled before the wide spread of covid-19, before the UK asked us to return.
Pakistan is expected to be among the hardest hit of the developing nations according to the UN (4).
The FCO waited for commercial flights from ONLY one airline (the State-owned "PIA" - not party to a £75m repatriation fund) to materialise.
A charter flight should be laid on for the at-risk. Instead, our Conservative-led government prioritised a commercial deal with PIA and/or its owner - the Pakistani government, putting political deals with foreign nations ahead of our safety, leaving us trapped amid airspace closures (2).
Of the 7000 estimated Brits in Pakistan, 1220 have been in touch: 660 at high risk of covid-19. Many are out of funds to book more flights. Some paying upwards of £2000 for a ticket, only for flights to be cancelled with little prospect of refunds: the stranded left to market forces.
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Particularly galling, is the fact that neighbouring India and other nations are deemed "priority nations" for heavily subsidised repatriations - a term coined by UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, during his press briefing on Tuesday. Other nations sent repatriation flights to collect their nationals such as Germany, (1) bypassing restrictions imposed by Pakistani authorities, whilst Britain favoured a commercial outcome.
As British citizens, we ask: Has any of the £75m been spent on getting us home like those in Peru?
Many wonder if we're being treated as second class citizens, offloaded to the motherland's state airline /authorities?
It's an appalling and shocking way to treat us British Nationals stranded in Pakistan, and demand URGENT action to ensure the most vulnerable are not left to market forces, which have only sought to capitalise on a crisis by outrageously raising prices.
UK FCO Email to stranded Nationals:
NOTES TO EDITORS:
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