Coronavirus: Plaistow mother stranded in Pakistan pleas for help to return to family

Hira and her family in happier times. Picture: Hira Sadiq

Hira and her family in happier times. Picture: Hira Sadiq - Credit: Archant

A mother stranded in Pakistan after flights were cancelled because of coronavirus has pleaded for help to return home to her children.

London Assembly's Unmesh Desai. Picture: Mike Brooke

London Assembly's Unmesh Desai. Picture: Mike Brooke - Credit: Mike Brooke

Hira Sadiq, of Plashet Road, Plaistow, has been trapped in Karachi since March 23 when her flight was cancelled and airports closed in the port city.

The 36 year old said: “I’m safe, but my four children are missing me and need their mum. It’s not easy for them to live without me.”

Hira travelled to Pakistan in order to look after her ageing parents, who she had not previously seen for two years and with whom she is currently staying.

She reported trying more than 50 times to get in touch with the British High Commission in Islamabad for help, but said she has yet to receive a reply.

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab. Picture: PA / Peter Nicholls

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab. Picture: PA / Peter Nicholls - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

And she has written twice to West Ham MP Lyn Brown, urging her to help on March 26 and 27.

Hira estimated about 700 fellow British citizens are stuck in Pakistan, in spite of people having been brought back to the UK from countries including Peru and China.

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Lyn Brown said: “‘Far too many British people have been left stranded abroad with little or no support during this terrible, fearful time for us all. My office has been supporting many constituents who simply haven’t been able to get home despite constant efforts and expense.

“I am informed there will be a renewed window of opportunity on April 5 to organise flights out of Pakistan for the more than 700 British people still trapped away from their families.

“I am calling on the government to finally step in and take full responsibility for getting Hira and so many others home,” she added.

Unmesh Desai, who represents the City and east London at City Hall, wrote to foreign secretary Dominic Raab on Saturday March 28, calling on him to outline plans to return stranded British nationals.

“These are fellow citizens, many of whom travelled in the absence of any clear government advice to the contrary. Now, through no fault of their own, they have found themselves unable to return home.

“My constituents and thousands of other British nationals desperately need you to act now to help them to get back to their families during these extraordinarily difficult times”, Mr Desai wrote.

He called for a “more robust” repatriation plan along with a commitment to prioritise expanding the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s emergency loan scheme to help stranded Britons “left destitute”.

And he urged working more closely with other countries to coordinate a solution as well as for lines of communication to be improved at consulates and embassies.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spokesman said: “We recognize British tourists abroad are finding it difficult to return to the UK because of the unprecedented international travel and domestic restrictions that are being introduced around the world – often with very little or no notice.

“The FCO is working around the clock to support British travellers. The government is seeking to keep key transit routes open as long as possible and is in touch with international partners and the airline industry to make this happen.

“Consular staff are supporting those with urgent need while providing travel advice and support to those still abroad.”

The foreign secretary spoke to Pakistan’s foreign minister, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, on March 28 about how to bring British people home.