YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Armenians stranded in China appealed to Armenia’s government on Tuesday, February 4, to help evacuate them from the country coping with a new coronavirus that has killed more than 400 people.
According to the Foreign Ministry in Yerevan, an estimated 400 Armenian nationals lived in China before the outbreak of the deadly disease last month. Many of them taught English in Chinese schools and universities.
Ministry officials say that around 200 Armenians have returned home in the last 10 days. Others have trouble following suit due to the absence of direct flights between the two countries and the dwindling number of Western, Russian and other airlines flying to China.
Several of them said that with classes and commercial activity in the country increasingly brought to a halt as part of Chinese government efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus, their employers have terminated their work contracts.
“The roads are blocked,” said Tatevik Martirosyan, who has lived and worked in China’s eastern Shandong province in the last few years. “When we get to the airport we don’t know whether or not we’ll be able to board a plane. While staying here, we are spending our money and may end up having no money to fly back to Armenia.”
“Dear compatriots, we want to return home and are asking you to take measures to repatriate us,” she added, speaking via a video link.