While a number of South Africans are still in need of assistance to make their way home from abroad, others are now looking to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) to help them return to their work overseas.

According to International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Naledi Pandor, the Department is not prepared to cover the costs of these requests.

Many South Africans are seeking to return to countries they hold residency in, either for study purposes or to return to work, as these countries begin to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandor says these individuals asked to return to South Africa, a process which is costly and time consuming and now they wish to leave again. She has stated that DIRCO is not in a financial position to carry the costs of their travels and no one is allowed to leave the country at this point.

“The process of repatriation is not easy, given the various restrictions implemented by countries across the world. The process involved a lot of negotiations with multiple stakeholders, which explains why we couldn’t repatriate some as speedily as we wished. To properly coordinate this process, my department established a Command Centre, which operates 24 hours a day to help those who were unable to reach our missions abroad. The repatriation of South Africans is a humanitarian mission that is coordinated by the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) with the guidance of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), chaired by the President,” said Pandor.

She also stated that further complications lie with other countries who may not wish to open their borders either.

“We cannot compel countries to take back persons, and they cannot open their borders because South Africa asks them to do so… No, we will not be assisting those who wish to return to the countries they were repatriated from after the lockdown.”

With more South Africans still needing to be brought home, the Department is choosing to focus on their repatriation mission.

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