The European Union's top official vowed Thursday to help member states bring home thousands of Europeans stranded abroad as the coronavirus epidemic halts flights and closes airports worldwide.
In a video message, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that some 100,000 Europeans want to come home, despite their continent having become the epicentre of the global disease outbreak.
"Many Europeans are stranded abroad," she said. "Because of the coronavirus crisis, flights have been suspended, others have been closed, and they do not know how the situation will evolve.
"We are here to help them return home. We are working closely with national governments on this and European diplomats around the globe are providing assistance," she said.
Von der Leyen said 1,200 EU citizens have already been brough back, including hundreds of holidaymakers in Morocco, and that flights are being arranged from Egypt and the Philippines and as far as Peru and Mongolia.