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Wednesday Apr 08 2020
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UK MP Naz Shah asks govt to provide financial help to Britons stuck in Pakistan

LONDON: Labour MP Naz Shah has called upon the UK government to provide financial assistance to the thousands of Britons stuck in Pakistan as international flights remained suspended on Wednesday.

In a letter to Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth Lord Tariq Ahmad, Shah said she had significant concern that her constituents have paid more than once for the flights that have been cancelled. "People have now literally run out of money to buy a new ticket to return home," she wrote.

"While I appreciate that the matter of PIA is for the Pakistan government [to deal with], I am concerned that my constituents, many of whom are vulnerable with underlying health conditions, in some cases literally running out of their medicines, will not be able to return due to a lack of finances," she added.

People who have spoken to have confirmed that some of those currently stranded in Pakistan suffer from serious health conditions.

A single mother from London, currently stranded in Rawalpindi, said she was a cancer patient and needed to return to Britain for essential medical treatment but she had not been offered any help so far. She explained that she was unable to get advice on how to get the treatment or if the UK government would take up her case with the Pakistani authorities.

A major portion of the people currently stranded in Pakistan were elderly and visiting for an average two or three weeks.

Shah said she had received messages from people across the UK requesting her to take up their cases with the British government, which she hoped would pay attention and find a way to help those who have serious underlying health conditions.

At any given time, there are more than 100,000 Britons in Pakistan. According to the UK government's estimates, around 8,000 are short-term travelers who wish to return.

The British High Commission, alongside the Pakistani government, had planned multiple special flights to repatriate stranded British nationals but has discovered that exorbitant prices are being charged for these flights.