Rwanda explores ways to support nationals facing travel difficulties
Rwanda announced travel restrictions Wednesday, including halting all departing and arriving passenger commercial flights in the country, for a period of 30 days.
The Ministry of Health said in a statement that commercial flights, including RwandAir will be halted beginning Friday midnight March 20, as part of the measures to contain the Covid-19 outbreak.
As a result, Rwandans who were in transit raised concerns that they would not meet the deadline set by the Government, posing travel challenges to many.
“I have a flight coming leaving Dubai and arriving in Kigali on 20th March 6AM. I’m unsure if the flight is still going to operate,” Mark Ndoli (@ndoli_mark), a Rwandan student asked RwandAir on Twitter.
Zola Keza (@keza_zola), another Rwandan student in Melbourne, US, whose flight was scheduled to arrive in Kigali on March 21, asked what was going to be the next plan after the travel restriction.
Many of the nationals expressed concerns are Rwandan students who study abroad who have either been affected by the travel restrictions and other measures that countries have put in place to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic.
Many countries across the world have shut down services, affecting many diaspora communities who say they have been left with no option but to go back to their countries.
“Suspending flights is a good idea and all. I’m also thinking of my relatives who study abroad, and in the state of emergency those countries are closing down student apartment & school housing + the whole nation on lockdown,” Another Rwandan said.
“They have no other way to survive- how do they get home?” she asked.
Following this, Rwanda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said it is reaching out to all Rwandans facing travel difficulties.
Olivier Nduhungirehe, the State Minister in charge of East African Community at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told The New Times that they are exploring options to support stranded Rwandans abroad.
“We have asked all Rwandans abroad who are facing travel difficulties to contact their nearest embassies, to see how to support them,” he said.
He added that they are waiting to receive reports from embassies and the people “dealing with those cases here and we will find clear ways to act on those cases.”
The Minister did not mention what options are on the table currently but he said the Rwandans abroad will receive support.
Rwanda has taken measures and the travel restrictions is one of the many seen as the right measure to reduce the spread of the pandemic.
“We are now dealing with the pandemic and that’s the most important thing. Most of the cases have been imported, that’s why we have taken that decision,” Nduhungirehe noted.
Rwanda has so far registered 11 cases of coronavirus as of Wednesday.