Israeli travelers in Asia who have been stranded due to closing airspaces amid the global coronavirus pandemic are said set to make their way home in the coming days.
An unspecified number of tourists in Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Thailand will converge in Bangkok for a flight to Israel organized by FlyEast, a local company that specializes in travel to Asia. The travelers will reach the Thai capital aboard a number of internal flights coordinated by Israeli diplomats in Hong Kong, according to a Ynet report. The flight will also pick up some 50 Israelis stranded in Goa, India.
Earlier this week, the Foreign Ministry estimated that between 1,000 to 1,500 Israelis who want to return have not yet been able to do so. The ministry said that continued efforts are being made to get everyone home, citing the principle of “mutual responsibility.”
“More than 600 Israelis came back from India, 200 students from Jordan, 150 Israelis from Central Europe and another 150 from Costa Rica,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Thursday. Earlier in the week, Katz had instructed his team to develop a “national emergency plan” to repatriate Israelis stuck abroad.
“We managed to get tourists out from all parts of Bolivia, and even those that were unable to board [last week’s] El Al flight from Peru will return to Israel soon, after they went on rescue flights organized by the German Foreign Ministry. Israeli citizens can be proud of their diplomats around the world,” he said.
A group of 23 Israeli tourists took off Thursday from Lima, Peru en route to Frankfurt on a plane the German Foreign Ministry sent to the Latin American country to pick up German tourists stuck there. Since there are no flights from Germany to Israel, the Israelis will have to fly from Frankfurt to a third country from which airlines are still landing in Tel Aviv.
According to Israel’s ambassador to Peru, Asaf Ichilevich, 12 Israeli backpackers are still in various areas of the country. “We will make every effort to bring them home, too,” he said.
In addition to these places, the Foreign Ministry in cooperation with El Al and two other Israeli airlines — Arkia and Israir — has organized nearly a dozen flights for Israelis stranded in Croatia, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Singapore, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Slovenia, Georgia, Moldova, and Australia.
Israeli officials continue to urge all Israelis who are still abroad and want to come home to do so as long as it is still possible.