‘We feel completely abandoned’: Students are stranded in Peru with no way to get home
Four UK students are trapped in Peru with no way of leaving
Four students from the UK are stranded in Peru due to coronavirus travel restrictions, with absolutely no way of getting back to their homes in the UK.
Sheffield students Yzabelle Bostyn and Ruth Winston are currently stuck in the country, accompanied by Nottingham student, Sofia Gordon and Durham student, Maya Prowse. The four students are part of the 250 British nationals currently stuck in Peru, with all flights to the UK having been cancelled.
The students were planning a four month volunteering trip, starting in early March. However, 10 days after their arrival the students were given 24 hours notice of Peru closing their borders and told to return to the UK as soon as possible before the restrictions were put in place.
George Heuck, a student from Durham University, was also in Peru but has managed to return to the UK through Columbia and Madrid after two cancelled flights, across four days and five cities. George told us he almost didn’t make it back due to complications with available flights, visas and closed borders but he is now back safely and self-isolating. The other students have not been as lucky.
Yzabelle, a student at the University of Sheffield, told us of the struggles the students faced trying to find a way back to the UK: “I had a flight booked through Brazil but with all the flights grounded, I couldn’t take it”.
With the British Embassy in Peru closed, the emergency number provided not working and Peru now in 15 days of lockdown, the only way to reach help was via the ‘UK in Peru – British Embassy’ Facebook page.
Through this, the students were told to try and leave Peru but with all of their travel options exhausted, they were later advised to organise accommodation in Peru for at least 15 days. Following this advice, Yzabelle panicked: “All my friends and I who are stuck abroad feel completely lost and abandoned with little to no help from officials at our universities or otherwise”.
— Kate Green (@KateGreenSU) March 17, 2020
With not many options left, the students contacted their MPs. One student contacted their MP, Kate Green, who asked the UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab to “take a very careful look at the situation in Peru”. His reply assured that the government “will look to do everything we can both to provide support and advice for those that need to return to provide them with the means to do so”.
However, Maya, a student from Durham University contacted her MP, Jack Lopresti, but was merely told to wait for information from the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) on what to do next.
UPDATE: We now advise against all non-essential travel overseas.
— FCO travel advice (@FCOtravel) March 17, 2020
With the government providing mixed advice and there being no hope of travelling home anytime soon, Yzabelle contacted the Global Opportunities department at the University of Sheffield for support. She stated that although she was safe with her Peruvian host family, she needed to get home soon.
Yzabelles plea was met with no practical advice but was merely told to “take everything one day at a time” and to “Skype family and friends back home in the UK” as “seeing familiar faces might lift your spirits”. Yzabelle and Ruth are now currently stuck in Peru with no information or protection, along with other students Sofia and Maya.
Understandably, the four students who are stranded are feeling increasingly anxious but they are hoping that by raising awareness of their situation, all Britons stranded abroad will be able to return home soon. They’re awaiting an email from the embassy alerting them to any flights out of Peru to the UK, but this isn’t looking likely any time soon.