Over 50,000 Americans are reportedly stuck overseas as the coronavirus pandemic continues to claim lives. The U.S. Department of State is working to bring these citizens home, with more than 9,000 people already repatriated from 28 countries, it said.
“Our posts around the world have received requests for assistance for getting back to the United States from over 50,000 U.S. citizens,” Ian Brownlee, the head of the State Department’s repatriation task force told reporters (via NBC). “And we’re committed to bringing home as many Americans as we possibly can.”
The Department of State said it has launched an unprecedented global effort to bring these Americans home, no matter where they are located. The agency said it expects to bring home thousands more in the coming days from regions all over the world.
The agency expects over the next week and a half to bring 9,000 more Americans home, using 66 more flights, with priority being given to vulnerable populations such as the elderly and ill, Brownlee said.
More than 800 people were evacuated from Wuhan, China, where the COVID-19 outbreak started, in January and February. The Department of State said that five flights were necessary, and more than 300 medical staff, diplomats, and logistical experts coordinated the effort.
In March, 1,000 Americans were returned to U.S. soil from Morocco as the borders closed with the help of nine charter flights in a 48-hour period.
“The Department has never before undertaken an evacuation operation of such geographic breadth, scale, and complexity,” the agency said in a statement. “We are using all the tools at our disposal to overcome logistical and diplomatic challenges and bring Americans home from hard-to-reach areas and cities hardest-hit by the virus.”
According to the news outlet, there are more than 4,000 Americas in Peru and another 7,000 U.S. citizens in Ecuador alone.