From the Philippines to Peru, scores of Canadians who are worried they’ll be stranded abroad for weeks, or even months, as countries close their borders amid the COVID-19 pandemic are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to do more to help bring them home.
Toronto resident Lauren Ianni, 30, spoke to Global News from the town of Cusco in the Peruvian Andes, where she and hundreds of Canadians are currently stuck after Peru issued a nationwide state of emergency declaration, effectively stopping people from travelling in or out of the country.
“We are just scared and hungry,” Ianni said.
“Every day, I wake up waiting for something to be solved, but that doesn’t feel like it’s going to happen.”
Ianni is confined to a hotel with her American boyfriend where there are concerns people may run out of food as movement inside the country has been limited under martial law to stop the spread of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The couple travelled to Peru last Thursday after getting confirmation from their tour company that they were safe to go before travel advisories were issued. On Sunday, the company announced mid-trip that the tour was cancelled, and later that evening, Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra announced the country was closing its borders.
She and other Canadians who contacted Global News say they’ve received little to no help from Global Affairs and that they haven’t been able to reach staff at the consulate in Lima, Peru. A Facebook group for Canadians stranded in Cusco now has over 500 members.
“Nobody has actually followed through with anything or provided any information,” Ianni said. “I have even heard the American embassies and others, they’re really talking about sending a plane for their citizens.
“I just have not heard anything about Canada,” she said. “And that’s kind of shocking to me because there are so many of us here. I don’t know; I would think that it would be important to them.”
Margaret McKellar, who is stuck in Cusco with her 15-year-old daughter, said Canada should follow the lead of other countries, like Israel, that have sent flights to help rescue stranded travellers.
“The only way we can get home is for our government to co-ordinate that. It’s really frustrating and it feels like we aren’t a priority at all.”
McKellar said people are beginning to run out of critical medication and that police were entering hotels searching for tourists who have a fever.
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