The Foreign Ministry, also through the foreign network of Embassies and Consulates, continues to work tirelessly to ensure the safe repatriation of all compatriots who were stranded abroad during the pandemic. Since the beginning of the emergency, more than 79 thousand compatriots from 117 countries have returned to Italy with the assistance of the Ministry, thanks to more than 700 air, sea and land operations.
Only last week 3,225 people from the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Mexico, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Fiji and Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Sudan, Central African Republic and Zanzibar were repatriated; just today more than 350 Italians from Colombia, Egypt, Costa Rica and Honduras are returning.
This effort has been going on for more than two months now, in accordance with an evolving strategy aimed at providing an ever-changing response to the changing global situation.
In an initial phase of the emergency, the intervention of the Farnesina focused on the return of “fragile” categories of compatriots abroad: students (“erasmus” university students but also unaccompanied minors enrolled in high school), people having chronic diseases, or those burdened by delicate family situations. These compatriots were mainly stranded in Europe and were surprised by the suspension of the free movement of people within the European Union and by the closure of numerous air routes. At that time, priority was given to the speed of the response, means and routes were identified that would allow the greatest number of compatriots to return home in the shortest possible time.
We are now going through a second phase, certainly more complex and no less urgent: we are managing the return of compatriots from countries geographically much more distant and poorly connected with Italy. Even today, priority is given to the citizens who are most in need of assistance: families with children, the elderly, unaccompanied young people. In addition to these, there are compatriots who have lost their jobs abroad, many of whom were employed in accommodation facilities, tourism and personal services, or in other activities suspended by local containment measures. Constant attention is paid to the many seafarers who are still on board vessels.
This difficult repatriation work must be carried out in complete safety, i.e. in meticulous compliance with national and international health standards. In particular, Italian legislation imposes, for aircrafts bound for our country, rules on the distance between passengers that considerably reduce aircraft transport capacity.