Over 50,000 stranded Dutch repatriated last year
As a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had to repatriate over 50 thousand Dutch people who got stranded abroad last year. "There were zero in 2019, so this is unique," a spokesperson for the Ministry said to NOS.
12 thousand Dutch people were brought back to the Netherlands with government-funded flights. The other repatriations happened through diplomatic mediation and were carried out by airlines and travel organizations. Thousands of Dutch people got stranded abroad when international air travel was suddenly brought to a halt by the pandemic in March 2020.
A total of 4,218 Dutch people contacted the Ministry for help while abroad, a 36 percent increase compared to 2019. The Ministry helped 220 Dutch people who were admitted to a foreign hospital, an increase of 82 percent. In some cases, the emergency assistance consisted of providing medicine for people who unexpectedly got stuck abroad and ran out of their chronic medicine.
The number of customer contacts to the Ministry's emergency hotline almost doubled to 940 thousand. "As a result, we had to scale up considerably, especially in March," the Ministry spokesperson said to the broadcaster.