March 24, 2020
STATEMENT BY MORGAN ORTAGUS, SPOKESPERSON
Department of State’s Global Effort to Bring Americans Home
The Department of State is rising to meet the historic challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, every day, all over the world. We have no higher duty than to protect American citizens, and have launched an unprecedented global effort to bring home our citizens from every corner of the globe.
As of today, we have repatriated more than 9,000 Americans from 28 countries. Our teams, working around-the-clock in Washington and overseas, will bring home thousands more in the coming days, from every region of the world.
Our first priority was to evacuate more than 800 people in January and February from Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began. The operation involved five flights and more than 300 medical staff, diplomats, and logistics experts – all coordinated by the Department.
Over 48 hours in March, Mission Morocco raced against a sudden and unexpected closure of Morocco’s borders to charter nine flights in quick succession into the country to bring home more than 1,000 Americans.
These are just a small sampling of the many extraordinary efforts the State Department is undertaking to protect Americans abroad.
The Department has never before undertaken an evacuation operation of such geographic breadth, scale, and complexity. We are using all the tools at our disposal to overcome logistical and diplomatic challenges and bring Americans home from hard-to-reach areas and cities hardest-hit by the virus.
This effort has involved close collaboration with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, foreign governments, commercial airlines and other private-sector partners, and NGOs.
We will continue to take decisive action to inform and safeguard U.S. citizens overseas, protect the homeland, advance the Administration’s commitment to building global health security capacity for this and future outbreaks, and reduce the impact for U.S. companies and supply chains overseas.
We strongly encourage all U.S. citizens abroad to enroll with STEP.State.gov and monitor the relevant Embassy’s website to ensure they receive the most up-to-date information.