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Soldiers wearing protective face masks as a precaution in Lima, Peru AP/PA Images

Coveney confirms charter flight to repatriate Irish citizens stuck in Peru being arranged

There are currently 135 Irish citizens in Peru.

TANAISTE AND FOREIGN Affairs Minister Simon Coveney has confirmed that the government is arranging a charter flight to fly Irish citizens out of Peru, after the country announced it was to close its borders. 

There are currently 135 Irish citizens in Peru. 

In an interview with the Peruvian television channel ‘Canal N’, Defence Minister Walter Martos said that from last night, Peru’s borders would close completely.

Up until now, the Peruvian authorities had been assisting with repatriation efforts from various countries. 

In recent days, the Department of Foreign Affairs has been keeping in touch with Irish citizens stranded there to advise them on the best course of action. It has also been liaising with the UK government about arranging a flight to repatriate British and Irish citizens to London. 

Speaking to RTÉ’s This Week, Coveney confirmed that an agreement has now been reached with British Airways and Aer Lingus to charter a flight to Lima to bring home Irish and UK citizens. 

The flight will be operated by British Airways and is expected to fly in the middle of next week. 

Around 60 to 70 of the Irish citizens in Peru are in the capital of Lima, while the rest are elsewhere in the country. 

“We will need to try to get all of those Irish citizens to Lima in the next few days and then picked up by a charter flight which we now have an agreement on,” Coveney said. 

Yesterday evening, the the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab had secured permission for a UK-organised flight to leave Peru for “early next week” following a call with his Peruvian counterpart.

Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra has announced a state of emergency and a 15-day military lockdown to be imposed on Monday – with all land, sea and air borders to close.

There are currently 263 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Peru, compared with 785 in Ireland, which hasn’t imposed the same strict measures in response to the pandemic.

So for tourists who had been travelling in the country, the announcement wasn’t expected, and didn’t give them enough time to leave the country before the lockdown came into force.

A nighttime curfew has since been put in place from 8pm-5am, and Irish people have reported that the measures being imposed are becoming more extreme.

With reporting by Gráinne Ní Aodha 

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