€10 million fund launched to bring people back to Netherlands
Travelers stuck outside of the Netherlands due to flights being halted or severely limited in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic have a new option to get help to return home. A ten-million euro fund was launched on Monday to provide assistance to stranded fliers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Monday.
Essentially, passengers will contribute 300 euros for their own repatriation if returning back from the European Union or 20 countries near the EU. The personal contribution rises to 900 euros for countries further away from the list of EU-adjacent countries.
"We need to do our utmost to get these people home safely," said Stef Blok, the Dutch foreign minister, of the complicated situation. "Because of the huge impact of the coronavirus, this group in particular really has nowhere else to turn."
Passengers who need help were advised to register on a website the Dutch government set up specifically to address this issue. The news comes as KLM announced it was flying some passengers back to the Netherlands from South Korea on Tuesday and Thursday only, and that it was repatriating some passengers from Hong Kong.
The national repatriation effort announced Monday is only for people residing in the Netherlands who are trying to return from their travels abroad. It is "not for Dutch nationals who are permanent or semi-permanent foreign residents," a statement from the ministry said.
The program was created as a partnership between the Ministry, Dutch Association of Insurers, and the Dutch Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators (ANVR). Others involved include the infrastructure ministry, the disaster fund, the SGR travel guarantee fund, and travel operators KLM, Transavia, TUI Netherlands, and Corendon.
Europe-adjacent countries defined by the Ministry include:
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- North Macedonia