Trapped South African expat teachers in Cambodia have nowhere to turn

Published:  22 May at 6 PM
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One of the major difficulties caused by a lack of international coordination after the pandemic hit is that huge numbers are trapped outside their home countries.

Since the pandemic became established in the vast majority of world countries, a huge number of travellers are now trapped overseas with no way of returning home. As country after country slammed on lockdowns and border closures in order to protect their citizens, many of those needing the same protection were stuck in lands where few or no precautions were being taken. After the vast majority of flights worldwide were cancelled, those still open for booking were told passengers would not be allowed to disembark.
As a result, many world countries are now temporary stopovers for citizens of other states desperate to return home to their families and jobs, with the total stupidity of individual countries’ decisions shown as the worst way to tackle the pandemic.

However, a few South African travellers and returning expats stranded overseas have found a novel way to get round all the legalities and lockdowns, simply by hiring a private investigator to work with their embassy and consulates. The boss of a Cambodia-based private investigation company has revealed he’s been contacted by a number of South Africans stuck in Cambodia and Thailand. Declan Miller told reporters the SA embassy in Bangkok is trying to be helpful but are clearly overburdened with work at the present time. He added that one elderly male stuck in a remote Cambodia town had contacted him for help, but has since gone off the radar and can’t be traced.

Apparently, the vast majority of unhappy expats in the country are South African nationals working as English teachers before the closure of all the country’s schools. Most have little left of their salaries, with a few forced to rely on donations from strangers in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. Although the Cambodian government has eased off on tourist visas and is renewing them for free, unemployed expats are finding the prices of repatriation flights far too high to cover.

As is usual with embassies and consulates when their citizens are in trouble overseas, nothing much is being done to help the stranded South Africans. Expats’ groups are trying to be of use by attempting to get sense and help out of their governmental representatives in the region. In the firing line are students who’ve been thrown out of their halls of residence, those stranded at airports and those needing urgent medical assistance, all of whom are South African nationals. The only comments coming from their consular representatives are requests for patience in order to allow the exploration of ways to get them home.
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