The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) has noted with disappointment a press statement alleging that the South African Government has pulled the plug on Qatar Airlines to repatriate South Africans.
The Department wishes to state that it has NOT cancelled any arrangement with Qatar Airlines.
Instead, the Department is continuing discussions with the Airline to repatriate South Africans in line with the rules and regulations stipulated by Government.
The repatriation of South Africans is a humanitarian mission that has been coordinated by the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) with the guidance of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), chaired by the President.
All the repatriation efforts are coordinated with the NATJOINTS, to make sure these efforts are compliant with the lockdown regulations.
South Africans abroad requiring repatriation have been encouraged to contact South African embassies to enable the Department to assess the demand in each country.
The information is then used to arrange the repatriation effort and to coordinate with NATJOINTS to ensure logistical arrangements with Health, Home Affairs, Police, Public Works and other relevant departments, including Public Enterprises where SAA is providing the airlift.
Because of the continued demand for South Africans to be repatriated, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation has submitted a request to the National Coronavirus Command Council following approval by the NATJOINTS.
When the process has been finalised and all the arrangements have been made, Dirco will continue with the repatriation of South Africans.
We are pleased that close to 3400 of the initial 3637, South Africans who initially indicated through our missions that they want to be repatriated have been brought back home. This number excludes hundreds that have come back through our land borders.
The Department reiterates its commitment to assist all stranded South African abroad to come back home
Department of International Relations and Cooperation
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of South African Government.