UPDATE: On Friday, the Ramos family said it heard confirmation that daughter Shaddai Ramos and grandma Ibeth Ventura are booked on a Sunday flight back to Canada. Previous story below.
An Edmonton mother has frantically been trying to get her 10-year-old daughter and 55-year-old mother back to Alberta from El Salvador.
Krislie Ramos fears her daughter, Shaddai, could be stranded in that country for months.
“There’s not much I can do when she’s so far away,” said an emotional Ramos.
To make matters worse, Ramos and her sister Kimberly say their mother, Ibeth Ventura, is diabetic and only has enough medication to last until April 6, 2020.
“My mom is crying, she’s telling me, ‘Kim I only have insulin for the next week and a half, I’m out of medicine.’
“Then what happens to my niece who is 10 years old?”
The sisters said the pair had been in El Salvador since the end of January, and had originally been scheduled to fly back to Canada in April.
As the COVID-19 pandemic worsened around the globe, the Ramos family said they switched those flights and booked two return seats to Canada for March 27, 2020.
Krislie Ramos said she was relieved to hear her daughter would finally be coming home.
“She called at 10:30 and said, ‘Mommy I’m going to see you, I’m going to see you today.'”
Ramos said she later found out that flight was cancelled.
Last month, the government of El Salvador locked down the entire country making it difficult to get in or out.
“The government of El Salvador has announced a national quarantine, banning foreign nationals from entering the country for 21 days,” said the government of Canada on its El Salvador travel advisory.
The Canadian government also stated, “Salvadoran authorities have suspended all commercial flights in and out of El Salvador until April 19, 2020.”
The Ramos family said they had tried to book a different flight from El Salvador to Montreal but were told that flight had been over-booked.
They said they have been advised the final Canadian flight will run Sunday, April 5, 2020, adding that after repeated attempts to contact the Canadian government, they still don’t have confirmation their loved ones will be coming home.
“Our concern at this point is that we’ve already been advised she’s coming back on previous flights and she hasn’t made it on,” said Kimberly Ramos.
“We’ve done everything that we’ve been told to do. ”
Feeling helpless from Edmonton, Krislie Ramos said she breaks down every time she talks to her daughter.
“Oh my god, how is Shaddai, how is she feeling?”
“What happens if they do get left behind?” asked Kimberly Ramos.
“How long are we going to have to wait?”
Late Thursday afternoon, Global Affairs provided Global News with a statement. It said that due to provisions under the Privacy Act, the department does not disclose information pertaining to specific consular cases.
However, Global Affairs said that to help Canadians return home, it continues working with airlines and foreign governments to facilitate flights to Canada from locations where there is a lack of international service, or where local restrictions on travel exist.
According to Global Affairs, 1,953 Canadians are registered in El Salvador with the Registration of Canadians Abroad Service.
“To date, Global Affairs Canada has facilitated two flights from El Salvador, the first with 189 Canadians on board and the second with 197,” the department said in an email. “These flights have helped almost 400 Canadians citizens and permanent residents return home.
“Other flights may be announced in the coming days. The situation remains fluid, and the Government of Canada is looking at all potential options to bring Canadians home.”
Global Affairs advises Canadians who are travelling to register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service and to follow @TravelGoC on social media for the latest updates.
In El Salvador, Global Affairs said Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada can seek consular assistance by contacting the Embassy of Canada in El Salvador via phone at (503) 2133-1100 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are working to help as many Canadians as possible return home, but some may remain outside of the country for an indeterminate amount of time,” Global Affairs said. “Canadians that are already outside of Canada or unable to return to Canada should monitor local media and follow local public health advice and lockdown or shelter-in-place guidance.
“We encourage Canadians to get more information about steps they can take to stay safe and secure while abroad. Canadians outside the country who are directly impacted by COVID-19 are eligible to apply for the Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad to facilitate their return to Canada and to cover basic essential needs while they work towards their return. Each application will be assessed according to their specific situation and needs.”