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'They've forgotten us': Thousands of Australians stranded overseas in the face of government's stringent border controls

September 13, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

No job, no visa, no health care -- and barred from returning home. This powder keg of misfortunes is the current reality for tens of thousands of Australian expats, due to the government's cap on international arrivals in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

(CNN) — No job, no visa, no health care -- and barred from returning home.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) says at least 25,000 Australians, many of who are financially and medically vulnerable, have registered their need to come home since July.

Those trying to return home now are Australian citizens who left the country prior to the pandemic, not holiday makers.

In the first three months following international border closures, over 357,000 Australian citizens returned home, according to DFAT.

A number of Australians currently stranded abroad told CNN that while the government did urge citizens to return home in March, it was a message aimed at short term travelers.

"If we are unable to get on a flight to Australia, we are effectively living as refugees, with no legal right to remain in the UAE and a home country that will not allow us to return," he explained.

For Emily Altamirano, the flight caps are just the latest barrier in a six-month bid to return home.

"My son asked me to try to get to Australia by boat, and I actually looked at whether I could travel by cargo ship," Ciampa described of her desperation to return home.

Simply put, too many Australian citizens expressed a need to come home from South Africa.

Many of those stranded have told CNN that it's near impossible to currently get home on an economy class ticket.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday that he wants to "ensure that every Australian that wants to come home is home by Christmas".

"It leaves little to no hope of us returning home any time soon. "

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