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Dubai residents stranded in Cape Town appeal for repatriation

Holidaymakers have been left stranded the world over, with a couple from Dubai having been separated from their two-year-old daughter.


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A couple who reside in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are desperate to return home after a holiday in Cape Town took an unforeseen twist.

Italian citizen Chiara Maioni and her British husband, Mark Hill, are stranded in South Africa after the sudden stop of flights to and from the UAE.

Stranded and separated from their daughter

The couple are desperate to return home to their two-year-old daughter who had been left in the care of a nanny in Dubai.

Maioni and Hill were set to enjoy a short break in the Mother City arriving in the country on 12 March with their return flight booked for 21 March. Shortly after arriving in South Africa, it dawned on the couple that the country was headed for lockdown as cases of the coronavirus spiked.

The multinational couple tried to bring their flight forward, but found it impossible to get on a plane.

As a result, the freelance television producer and her husband have been separated from their daughter and are unsure when they will be reunited.

No way back to Dubai

“All Emirates flights at this point were fully booked…for [16, 17, 18] March,” Maioni told Gulf News.

The couple have pleaded with Emirati authorities to help them get home to their daughter in Dubai.

“On the morning [of 19 March] we woke up to the news that all incoming flights had been blocked for tourists or residents alike.” Maioni wrote in a letter to Gulf News.

“We tried to book ourselves on another Emirates flight that was scheduled to operate as a special flight on 23 March, but that got cancelled as well.

“Since then we have been calling non-stop all helpline numbers that have been posted in the media.”

Italian citizen Chiara Maioni and her British husband Mark Hill are stranded in South Africa after the sudden cessation of flights to and from Dubai. Photo: Supplied

The couple have appealed to both the Italian and British embassies in South Africa but to no avail.

 “They keep telling us we will be hearing back in 48 hrs, but nothing so far. It has been more than 14 days since we first submitted our documents. We have called and resubmitted our papers online on the Tawajudi service for residents stranded abroad, but we are yet to hear anything.”

The couple says they have been wracked with guilt for leaving their two-year-old daughter in Dubai.

 “This is the first time we have left home without Skye, and I feel terribly guilty about this. She was born at seven months, premature, and we deserved a break, and now this has happened.

“I am sure a lot of people are facing similar circumstances, but we are not sure that many have a 2.2-year-old alone in the UAE under the supervision of nanny and maid only.

“I couldn’t bring myself to video call my daughter till quite a few days after … I was bursting down in tears. How do you explain to a two-year-old that mom and daddy have not left her, and we just can’t go back yet?

“The other day, my baby told me, ‘mama come home’, and it breaks my heart to hear that.”