Dirco launches "travel smart" awareness campaign for citizens travelling abroad

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) has released a new travel campaign targeted at South Africans travelling abroad.

Deputy international relations minister Reginah Mhaule said the “Travel Smart With DIRCO Campaign” would help South Africans understand how consular services could help them when travelling abroad.

She said Dirco had decided to launch the initiative following South Africa’s signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement at the recent African Union summit. Dirco plans “travel smart” provincial roadshows to further enhance public comprehension of what it can offer as consular assistance abroad.

South Africans often faced destitution in foreign countries in circumstances that required consular assistance but were unaware of what these services were, Mhaule said.

"Our department ... is mandated with rendering assistance and support to the public, working closely in collaboration with our diplomatic and consular representatives abroad. As such the colleagues responsible in carrying out this mandate on daily bases are in the cold face of service delivery like any other line function department," said Mhaule.

“The only difference between DIRCO and other departments is that we function largely in the purview of foreign relations. However our work is aimed at improving the living conditions of South Africans."

"The current uncertain and volatile security climate in the world requires us to respond favourably to these needs while adhering to our international obligations,” she added.

Mhaule said the Vienna Convention grants South African officials the right to access citizens in distress but urged citizens travelling abroad to make financial provisions and the necessary arrangements with the department.

Last week Dirco stepped in to rescue 51 citizens stranded in China on visa violations after they had been duped into accepting English teaching posts.

African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa