Between May 8 and 11, 2020, a series of special flights will repatriate Cameroonians stranded abroad, since the closure of national borders on March 18, due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The Minister of External Relations (Minrex), Lejeune Mbella Mbella, announced the schedule of these flights in a fax message addressed to the heads of Cameroonian diplomatic representations in the countries where these compatriots are stranded.
According to the Minrex, these flights will be operated by Ethiopian Airlines. The first flight will land on Friday at the Nsimalen International Airport in Yaoundé, with Cameroonians from Dakar (Senegal), Abuja (Nigeria) and Cotonou (Benin) on board, the document leaked on the Internet reads. On May 9, passengers from Johannesburg (South Africa) and Dubai (United Arab Emirates) will be next.
Two flights are scheduled for May 10. The first will board passengers from Toronto (Canada), Washington (United States), Paris (France), and São Paulo (Brazil) while the second is for those from Tunis (Tunisia) and Lomé (Togo). The last return flight is scheduled for May 11, with passengers from Libreville (Gabon), Kinshasa (DR Congo) and Bangui (CAR) on board.
The Minrex requests the heads of the diplomatic missions involved in this operation to request overflight and landing authorizations for such flights from the competent authorities in their areas of jurisdiction.
"Ethiopian Airlines will submit the technical information relating to the planned flights in due course," said Lejeune Mbella Mbella. According to the minister, this repatriation does not apply to Cameroonian residents settled in these countries. This operation concerns only those who in transit or on temporary visits are locked in these countries because of the suspension of flights and have also agreed to be quarantined upon their return.
Cameroonian officials are invited to comply with the lists they have sent to the Minrex or they will be rejected by the Ministries of Finance (Minfi) and Transport.
"For Cameroonians in areas of jurisdiction or coverage where flights will not arrive, please coordinate with your colleagues in nearby areas for the organization of transfers of those concerned to the dedicated airports in coordination with the competent local authorities," Lejeune Mbella Mbella wrote to the ambassadors, high commissioners and consuls of Cameroon in the countries concerned.
According to the government, 668 Cameroonians are still stranded abroad because of Covid-19. The first contingent of 675 has already been repatriated at the state’s expense. Their repatriation was instructed on April 23, by Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute. He instructed the Minrex to speed up the procedures for their return and asked the Minister of Public Health (Minsanté), Manaouda Malachie, to finalize the measures related to the organization of the confinement of the returnees upon their arrival.