The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in collaboration with the Chancellor’s Office of Argentina, recently helped repatriate nearly 100 Argentine citizens who were stranded in Mexico because of COVID-19 imposed travel restrictions.
In late April, a flight from Mexico landed at the Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with Argentine citizens and 150 Latter-day Saint missionaries from the South American country.
The missionaries who accompanied the group of repatriated Argentines had been previously assigned to serve in Mexico and Central American countries and were transferred back to their home country, Argentina, to reduce the health risks associated with the coronavirus outbreak.
The virus’ rapid spread impacted people around the world, including individuals who found themselves outside of their home country when governments imposed strict travel restrictions.
In many instances, governments closed their country’s borders and announced lockdowns.
International flights were also canceled, leaving foreigners, including Latter-day Saint missionaries, stranded and without a way to return home.
To mitigate the situation and safely return Argentine missionaries serving in Central America back to their home countries in South America, the Church chartered a flight and partnered with Argentina’s chancellorship to offer all remaining seats to other Argentine citizens at no cost, in an effort to help them return home.
“It’s wonderful; I didn’t expect it,” said Valentina, upon arrival to Buenos Aires. “They have been very kind to bring us back.”
Valentina waited over a month and a half to find her way back to Argentina and was one of 100 people who flew on the Church-sponsored flight from Mexico.
Due to changing conditions associated with the COVID-19 outbreak, the Church’s First Presidency announced weeks ago that missionaries would be returning to their home countries early to self-isolate.
“To be a part of this operation and help these young adults return home is a proud moment,” said Fede Pugliese, General Director of Entities and Worship of the City of Buenos Aires. “This is a difficult moment that we are living.”
Pugliese stood side by side with local Church leaders to welcome Church missionaries and other passengers.
“It’s a beautiful gesture. Everyone wants to return home to their family,” said Pugliese.
Pugliese added that there is still much left to do to return each of his fellow citizens home.
This trip is the first of several chartered flights that the Church and Argentina’s Office of the Chancellor will organize together to return nearly 800 Argentine missionaries back home and help other citizens left in limbo because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The Church has also helped repatriate citizens from other Latin American countries, including Chile.