Hundreds of Canadians fly back home from Guyana

WestJet aircraft getting ready for takeoff from Guyana

Three hundred Canadian citizens who were stranded in Guyana since last month, returned home on two WestJet “humanitarian” flights – one on Saturday and the other on Monday.

Hundreds more are waiting to be repatriated.

Lilian Chatterjee, the Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, told the local media that “there were 600 [persons] who wanted to return and 300 have gotten on to these flights.”

The two WestJet flights left Guyana via the Cheddi Jagan International airport (CJIA).

The CJIA was shut down and commercial flights  halted since March 18 last.

Earlier this month, three groups of Canadians who had been stranded in Guyana for more than two weeks,  left that country, 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  flew to Miami to make  connections for Canada. And 28 were in the other two groups.

On March 21 last, hundreds of Canadians who were Guyana were waiting on an Canadian Airways plane to take them back to Toronto.

But the plane did not make the trip to Guyana to pick up the passengers. And many of the stranded Canadians had been having difficulty reaching officials at the Canadian High Commission in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital city.

Fazila Shaw, one of the passengers who returned home on the weekend with her 14-year-old daughter, Kareema, told the Caribbean Camera that they had expected to remain in Guyana for two weeks “but ended up staying seven weeks.”

Shaw who lives in Toronto, said she experienced a lot of difficulty with the Canadian High Commission in Guyana when she tried  to arrange her return fight for herself and her daughter.

“Every time we contacted the officials there, the information  we received was different. At one time you would get a nice positive response from one person and the next time the response from another was completely different.”

Robin Samaroo, an accountant, who went to Guyana on March 12 last with his wife, his twelve-year-old son and his parents, also returned on the WestJet flight on Saturday.

Samaroo said they were all due to return to Canada on a Caribbean Airlines flight on March 22 last ” which was cancelled.

” And there was no sort of explaination about the cancellation,”

Samaroo said he had informed the Canadian High Commission in Georgetown that his parents were on medication and they were placed on “a priority list.

“And we were notified as soon as a flight became available.”

Up to press time no information was available about flight arrangements for the Canadians who  are still stranded in Guyana.