A UK citizen in Cambodia has intervened to organise a private charter flight to take 103 stranded UK tourists home, after claims that the UK Embassy and UK government “could not have done less to help”.
Jerry Lewis, a teacher who was travelling on a sabbatical in Cambodia with his family, stepped in to help over 100 UK citizens who were facing a long and uncertain wait in Cambodia as their scheduled flights to the UK were cancelled – and the few seats on any remaining flights were costing several thousand dollars.
Members of the Facebook Group “Stranded in Cambodia UK” had approached the UK Embassy for help over the past few days but claim they were given little help apart from standard emails and vague promises of assistance.
On the 25th of March a group of tourists went the UK embassy in person, but say they were turned away by Embassy guards.
As one member of the group said “Some of us went to the UK Embassy today to see if we could get some help or advice. We were met by guards who refused to let us in, no one would come out to speak to us, we were given a piece of paper with details of flights to get home- most of which no longer exist or are available for thousands of pounds. We have organised our own charter flight back to the UK. Tina Redshaw Ambassador could not have done less to help us.”
This is in direct contrast with other European Governments such as France and Germany, who have been actively organising repatriation flights for their citizens.
So group member Jerry Lewis hatched an audacious plan to privately charter a plane to Kuala Lumpar, which would then connect with a scheduled flight to the UK.
He met Malaysia Airlines representatives on the 25th of March and the airline, after receiving authorisation from the Cambodian government, agreed to run a special charter plane for UK citizens.
Mr Lewis then collected the necessary funds for the charter flight via the Facebook group and, barring any last minute complications, the flight is set to depart with 103 passengers today, Friday, March 27, 2020 at 6pm
Mr Lewis’s move has garnered praise from many stranded tourists, with comments like “Just wanna say thank you for being more helpful than our government” – however, many other UK citizens are still stranded in Cambodia and are anxiously awaiting news on how they will return to their home country.
These events have brought sharp criticism onto the UK Embassy’s handling of the situation with Mr Lewis saying “This has nothing to do with the Embassy – I have tried every which way to get hold of them without success.”