Three groups of Canadians, among hundreds of them stranded in Guyana for more than two weeks. left that country last week, some on an Eastern Airline flight to Miami, and the others travelled to Barbados to pick up an Air Canada flight to Toronto.
Fifty-one passengers were in the first group which left for Miami to make connections for Canada.
And 28 were in the other two groups which were repatriated.
Another Air Canada flight is expected to pick up some more of the stranded passengers on April 18.
These passengers will be flown to Barbados for the connecting Air Canada flight to Toronto.
Joyanne Fernandes, a senior audit manager at a Toronto bank, who was one of the stranded passengers who returned home on Saturday, told The Caribbean Camera that she went to Guyana last March on a Caribbean Airways flight.
But she said problems arose when the Caribbean Airways aircraft could pick up its passengers to return to Canada.
She explained that “Guyana was willing to open its border for us to fly out but Canada had its borders closed.
“And my husband Selwyn who was travelling with me had problems contacting the Canadian High Commission in Georgetown to register us as Canadian citizens in Guyana. No one was answering the telephone at the offices of the High Commission,”
” At first I wasn’t worried about being in Guyana. But then we started hearing the virus problem and many of us in the country were getting concerned about the situation, ” Fernandes.
She said that while it is hard to give a precise figure of the number of Canadians who are now in Guyana, hundreds are believed to be are still ” stuck” there.
Dave Deonarain, a Toronto-based attorney whose elderly parents arrived in Toronto from Guyana on the weekend, explained that Canadians in that country had been having problems registering with Global Affairs Canada “ due to lack of internet service.”
“ And many were relying on the Canadian High Commission in Georgetown, but to no avail.”
Deonarain explained that “ Guyana is in a state of quarantine. So internet cafes are closed and to get to somewhere to be on the internet will require Canadians to venture out instead of staying home.”
He complained that since March 14 last, the Canadian High Commission in Guyana has not answered its emails or phone calls “ to assist Canadians in Guyana to register with Global Affairs Canada.”
Deonarain noted that “ since the general elections in Guyana on March 2 last, there are political and security issues due to the allegations of election fraud. At the moment, the US government is contemplating sanctions against Guyana.
“This political instability along with the inadequate health services poses an immediate and grave danger to the Canadians who are stranded in Guyana.”
More than two week ago, The Caribbean Camera wrote to Canada’s Foreign Affairs minister, Francois-Phillipe Champaigne, informing him about the plight of the stranded Canadians in Guyana.
But to date there has been no response from the minister.
Photos by: Samuel Shivcharan