RIGA - In addition to a point of assembly in Istanbul, Turkey, Latvia is also planning to arrange one more point of assembly for returnees from Asia, Africa and Australia also in a Western European country, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (New Unity) said in an interview with Latvian Television today.
The minister said that it is already clear that it will be necessary to organize additional flights from Istanbul to bring Latvian nationals and residents back home. For that reason, the Foreign Ministry is working to arrange one more point of assembly in a Western European country.
Rinkevics also urged Latvians currently trapped in foreign countries to seize opportunities to travel to Vilnius or Tallinn because from there, they can still return to Latvia before the borders are closed on March 23.
As reported, 4,273 Latvian nationals have applied for repatriation from coronavirus-affected countries, Rinkevics said today, citing data from the Consular Register.
The minister said on social networks that 2,838 people are on their way home or just arrived from European countries, 1,082 from Aisia, Africa and Australia and 353 from South and North America.
Rinkevics said in an interview with Latvian Television this morning that the returnees registering for repatriation have traveled to foreign countries due to various reasons. Most of them are students whose studies have now been suspended, but there are also tourists and working people on business trips.
"There are also remigrants among the registered people. Many are questioning the necessity to provide such support, but it is our firm position that the Latvian state must provide all possible assistance to its nationals," the minister said.
As reported, the Foreign Ministry plans to complete the repatriation operation and bring home the Latvian nationals currently trapped in foreign countries by March 27 as countries are closing their borders to curb the Covid-16 crisis.
Rinkevics said on Facebook that the repatriation operation is the most extensive effort of this kind in Latvia's history.
At present, Latvia is organizing repatriation flights from those cities where there is a high number of Latvian nationals waiting to return home.
The Foreign Ministry intends to help everyone who has registered for repatriation with the Consular Register, the Foreign Ministry or embassies.