Australians trapped in Peru are being kicked out of their hotel rooms and in some cases are unable to connect with $5,000 one-way rescue flights as the country prepares to go into lockdown.
Frightened tourists have told The New Daily they have had little contact with the Australian Embassy, closed during the lockdown, and many are confused about whether Qantas flights are still operating.
Overnight, there were unconfirmed reports that backpackers had heard of police entering hostels to ensure tourists did not break curfew.
Qantas announced this week it was suspending international flights but might offer some repatriation flights in certain circumstances.
All Australians in Peru, including those in regional locations outside Cusco and Lima, are at the forefront of our mind. We are working around the clock with @dfat, the Peruvian government and other embassies to confirm travel options. We will continue to keep you updated.
— Diana Nelson (@embauslima) March 21, 2020
Heather McKay, an Australian travelling in Peru said she was getting kicked out of hotel accommodation after the weekend.
“My hotel closing Monday. Have offered to transfer me. Have accepted but getting worried,” she said.
Another woman, ‘Joan’, said “we are two hours from Cusco and lucky when we got the phone call we had to go to airport we had transport offered through agency but we refused to go because there weren’t connecting flights. The hotel was going to close but luckily a tour group turned up. There are 21 here.”
Valentina Kerr and her husband Chris are stuck in Cusco, Peru.
“Kicked out of our hotel without notice … well the story seems to be the same for a lot of people,” she said.
“I use a walking stick and rely on meds. We are on our own in an AirBnB. Just coping.”
“Unbelievable that Australian government had handed millions over so quickly to Qantas early on, instead of hiring them to repatriate Aussies.”
Christine Reardon is stranded in the Amazon jungle.
Her daughter, Samantha, complains the “government is doing nothing”.
“It took three calls before they even suggested anything and didn’t take down any details.”
“About sixty people are stuck outside Lima and Cusco. We need to make sure that when the next plane leaves, these people are are on it.”
“Qantas had a plane scheduled (for April 1) which would have brought home hundreds of Aussies via Santiago … if they let this flight go ahead, lots of problems will be fixed.”
Some countries, including Israel, have repatriated their own citizens.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz organised with Peruvian authorities to provide a police escort and they would be flown home free of charge.
The operation was being conducted under “the principle of mutual responsibility under which the State of Israel operates in a time of national emergency,” he said.
— Paul Hirschson (@paulhirschson) March 19, 2020
The Prime Minister said this week he was unaware of the plight of the Australians trapped in Peru until it was brought to his attention by media reports.
Australians seeking options to depart Lima are encouraged to contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details of a possible charter flight to Miami being organised through Abercrombie and Kent who can also provide advice on available connecting flights to Australia.
— Diana Nelson (@embauslima) March 20, 2020
But he warned there were ‘limitations’ to what Australia can do to help.
“Our wonderful DFAT team will continue to assist Australians wherever they practically can,” he said.
“But there are limitations to what can be done.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs has informed all citizens already abroad to return home on commercial flights as soon as possible.