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Coronavirus: Northern Ireland families appeal for help to fly loved ones home


Shauna Polly (left) from Downpatrick with her friend Stephanie Kidd from Bournemouth

Shauna Polly (left) from Downpatrick with her friend Stephanie Kidd from Bournemouth

Shauna Polly (left) from Downpatrick with her friend Stephanie Kidd from Bournemouth

Families in Northern Ireland have demanded that the government acts to bring home loved ones stranded abroad.

Shauna Polly (27) from Downpatrick is currently stuck in lockdown at a hostel in Peru with hundreds of other tourists.

The UK Government is working to arrange a flight home from Lima, but Shauna is 19 hours away and has no access to public transport.

Shauna's mother Claire has been in constant contact, but says they feel "isolated and vulnerable" while they wait for information.

Travelling with her friend Stephanie Kidd (30) from Bournemouth, Shauna is only allowed to leave the hostel every few days for food.

Claire said: "Their supplies are very limited, the food is very basic. She texted me last night to ask what she could make for dinner with just pumpkins and peppers.

"They're living a lot more meekly than the stupidity of people here who are stockpiling.

"She can manage with what they have, but the issue is the lack of information from the government."

She added: "It's not a question of money or paying for the flight, it's when is the flight to get them out? We just don't know if it will be two weeks or if they'll be stuck there till August or September." A Foreign Office spokesperson said a British Airways flight departing Lima for Heathrow yesterday was prioritising places for the most vulnerable British nationals.

"We continue to work around the clock with the Peruvian authorities, international governments and airlines to arrange further flights to the UK for remaining British nationals.''

They added that work was continuing with the Peruvian authorities on how to transport British passengers to the flights.

In Australia, Nathan from Antrim and his girlfriend Emma Craig (both 23) had their flight home cancelled this week.

They arrived at the UK embassy in Sydney for help, but were only given phone numbers which rang for hours. They now face at least another month in Australia with no work visas.

This week they saved money by walking for two hours to the UK embassy but were left frustrated by the lack of help.

"Once they arrived they wouldn't even let them inside, it was just Australian security guards giving them leaflets with phone numbers," said Nathan's father Michael.

"Luckily an American couple who are stuck in Melbourne have allowed them to use an apartment until they get home."

The Foreign Office said: "Consular staff are supporting those with urgent needs while providing travel advice and support to those still abroad."

Belfast Telegraph