A number of Hackney residents have been stranded overseas because of the grounding of flights due of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Where flights have been available they have been at hugely inflated costs - beyond the reach of most people.
I have been working closely with the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry as well as the Foreign Office directly.
Emily met the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, on Thursday 26 March and she pressed him on this issue and the complex individual situations.
The Government initially took the view that airline companies would provide the required flights to resolve the situation.
Emily Thornberry has, quite rightly, been pressing for the Government to go further and authorise RAF repatriation flights. Military skill and expertise in logistics is needed. The logistics required to repatriate stranded individuals and families from multiple locations across at least 35 countries are complex. We understand that the military is willing and able to help.
I am heartened that after much pressure the first charter flights to fly British residents home, including from Hackney, have been commissioned (in this instance for residents stuck in Peru). Original ticket prices quoted by airlines were around $3000 each. The Peru flights were around £250.
I am hopeful that this will now be the model used by the Government for Hackney residents stuck in other countries.
However this took a long time to organise and left many residents in limbo for too long. The severity of lockdowns in different countries adds further challenges for some trying to reach a repatriation flight.
If you live in Hackney and are stranded abroad and you haven't already been in touch contact email@example.com