While the number of foreigners remaining in Laos who wish to return to their home countries is unknown, over 250 foreign nationals have formed a Facebook group to share information and assistance following the Lao government’s decision to suspend charter flights.
According to one man who spoke with the Laotian Times, embassies have worked tirelessly to find solutions and assist their stranded citizens, however, Covid-19 prevention measures have temporarily paused charter flights.
“People are trying to survive on what little money they have left in their savings,” said the man, who wished to remain anonymous.
“Some of them do not have enough to pay the high cost of charter flights and have no means of leaving.”
A Croatian national who spoke with the Laotian Times said that after resigning from her job teaching English in northern Laos, her flight out was cancelled. She is now unemployed and subsists on a small amount of savings.
“I had no means of income at all during lockdown. I have spent ten months here, five months of that with no income,” she said.
“My country has no embassy in Laos and falls under the responsibility of our embassy in China. I am really hoping to go home soon, but without knowing when the border will reopen it is really hard,” she added.
Since early this year, the government of Laos has instituted Covid-19 prevention measures in phases. International borders remain open for Lao citizens and foreigners with proper authorisation to enter or exit the country, while tourists and those without authorization may not enter.
The government has granted visa amnesty, continually renewing tourist visas on a monthly basis for those who overstay, however, long-term visas and work visas are not being issued.
Charter flights have been suspended since July, following the country’s first imported case of Covid-19 in over a hundred days.