Foreign office urged to save desperate Brits stranded in Dubai
FCO urged to negotiate repatriation flights from UAE that could save British lives
Patrick Moody, British Ambassador to UAE
“Countless British nationals stranded in Dubai need their government’s urgent attention to facilitate their repatriation. Germany has managed to provide a plane for their nationals. Meanwhile, British Ambassador Patrick Moody is keeping Brits up to date on commercial flights returning to London with only a few seats available, now completely closed. The FCO needs to do more to get our nationals home as lives are at risk” Radha Stirling, CEO of Detained in Dubai said in a statement today.
“We have been inundated with calls and messages from stranded Brits looking for a way home. Some only have money for a matter of days and are stuck there with children wondering whether the government will arrange flights. Others are facing homelessness and severe conditions”.
Detained in Dubai has urged the FCO to arrange for the repatriation of British nationals stranded in the UAE and has included Brits who have existing travel restrictions on their passports, usually due to visa overstays, unpaid fines or small bank debts that they will never be able to repay. “Numerous Brits are stuck in Dubai on travel bans for the most trivial of matters, such as a small credit card debt. They are not allowed to work to repay any debts, cannot pay fines and have no way of resolving the issue - ever. With Coronavirus taking a stronghold in the country, the FCO needs to work with their counterparts to free these British nationals who are extremely vulnerable. They will not be able to cover any medical treatments and have no insurance. There is no reason for the UAE to continue to hold foreigners in this situation and we urge the British government to repatriate these nationals too.
“Repatriating expats and tourists, whether travel banned or not, must be a top priority for the British Embassy.”
Detained in Dubai received reports from inmates that Covid-19 has spread throughout the overcrowded prisons and there are little to no precautionary measures within the detention facilities. Those in prison are at extremely high risk of contracting the virus and will not be provided with sufficient medical care in the event of infection. “British nationals in prison have usually been detained for offences that we would consider non-criminal. For example, a bounced cheque, bank debt, alcohol consumption or even an offensive email. They have now been placed into an overcrowded facility where 40 people will share a small cell, piled in like sardines and at great risk of contracting Covid-19. Some prisoners are vulnerable, HIV+, malnourished or with other underlying health conditions. With the outbreak, the UK is in a unique position to open discussions with the UAE on releasing detainees. Their success could be the difference between life and death” said Radha Stirling.
The FCO has been largely criticised over the past few years for favouring trade deals and diplomatic relations with the UAE, over the interests of British citizens.
“The FCO needs to show British nationals that citizens are their absolute priority; by bringing them home”.