Huge repatriation operation draws to an end 

Nearly 7,000 people, including some 4,000 Swiss nationals, have been repatriated in an unprecedented operation. Keystone

Flights from India on Saturday and Africa next Wednesday will conclude the biggest repatriation operation ever mounted by the Swiss foreign ministry, in response to the coronavirus crisis. 

This content was published on April 24, 2020 - 11:36

Nearly 7,000 people stranded abroad have been repatriated on 33 flights since the operation began on March 22, the ministry saidExternal link on Friday. Nearly 4,000 of these passengers are Swiss, while the rest are from other countries, mainly European. About one third of these foreigners reside in Switzerland, according to the ministry.  At the same time, more than 1,500 Swiss nationals have returned home on flights organised by other countries. 

The foreign ministry says the operation would not have been possible without the “professionalism and hard work” of Swiss representations around the world. 

“The efforts of Swiss embassy and consulate staff, working in close cooperation with local authorities, proved decisive in obtaining the necessary flight permits, means of transportation and clearances to enable Swiss nationals scattered around the world, in some cases in remote areas, to reach the airports from which the flights departed”, says the statement. 

The total cost of some CHF10 million ($10.2 million) has been covered by the Swiss foreign ministry but “repatriated individuals will be expected to contribute to the operation by paying the equivalent of the market rate for a standard fare”, according to the press release. 

Now that the operation is drawing to a close, the ministry says its main focus will shift to “providing support for Swiss citizens who, for a variety of reasons, have been unable or unwilling to return to Switzerland”.  

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