Almost 100,000 European Union citizens remain stranded abroad as a result of coronavirus travel restrictions, the European commission has said.
The EU executive announced on Friday that 98,900 EU citizens were stuck abroad with ongoing efforts to bring them home, in comparison to 600,000 who had reported being stranded at the start of the outbreak.
The commission said the EU had helped bring home more than half a million people, mostly through consular co-operation. Around 45,000 EU citizens have also been repatriated through nearly 200 EU funded flights, as well as 1,837 UK nationals.
The UK remains in the Brexit transition period until the end of the year, so has the right to draw on the EU’s civil protection mechanism, a system of mutual assistance during flood, forest fire or global pandemic.
But the latest figures reveal the UK government has made sparing use of the programme, which means the EU will fund 75% of the cost of emergency repatriation flights. The UK has organised only six flights through the scheme, fewer than any large country apart from Italy. The government has not drawn on the scheme since 29 March, when British citizens and a handful of other EU nationals were flown out of Peru.
In contrast, Germany has organised 101 such flights through the system, repatriating a total of 21,815 of its citizens with EU help.
Tontrends reported that 65,000 UK nationals around the world are still in need of repatriation. Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said the numbers raised questions over the government’s repatriation policy.