THE DA has launched a Travel helpdesk for South Africans stranded abroad following the travel ban imposed on South Africa.
This follows the discovery of the new Omicron variant by SA scientists last week.
The Mercury reported yesterday that the Omicron variant was first discovered in South Africa and has since been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong.
The list of countries that have banned South African travel includes the US, Canada, Australia, Philippines, UK, Netherlands, Germany, Israel, Japan and Malaysia. The ban was also extended to neighbouring countries Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, eSwatini and the Seychelles.
MP Darren Bergman, the DA spokesperson on International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco ), said the party felt the need to step in and assist stranded South African residents abroad and those who have to travel abroad from South Africa.
Bergman said the helpdesk was launched to provide assistance to South Africans who have been hamstrung by recent travel bans using the channels afforded to the DA in Parliament, Dirco, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and with the help of volunteer programmes such as the Facebook group “Community Circle Home SA”, and foreign embassies.
“It must be made clear that the DA is not looking to replace consular services nor are we interfering in government. We are merely formalising again the work we have done in the past in order to provide assistance to the many South Africans who are struggling to navigate the irrational travel bans imposed on the country,” he said.
He said South Africans who are travelling abroad, emigrating, have visitors coming to the country, cannot access urgent consular services and/or witness any unfair practices are encouraged to email [email protected]
“We have created this channel to utilise our resources to deal with queries professionally and in a streamlined manner. We urge South Africans to reach out to the DA’s helpdesk as a last port of call should they not get the assistance from airlines, Dirco and airport staff,” said Bergman.
The DA also welcomed the president’s commitment to engage with foreign partners to have the travel restrictions reversed.
“These restrictions will have devastating consequences on our economy,” he added.