U.S. Embassy Mali staff assisting American citizens at the airport. Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy Bamako, Mali
Staff from the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé, Cameroon supporting repatriation efforts pose outside the airport in their protective masks. Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy Yaoundé, Cameroon
American citizens board a Brazzaville-Kinshasa boat shuttle bound for a repatriation flight in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo
Repatriation of American Citizens from Tanzania on April 21, 2020. Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
A mission-wide team from U.S. Embassy Lilongwe worked diligently to repatriate Americans. Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy Lilongwe, Malawi
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U.S. Embassy Eswatini coordinated with local officials and the U.S. Missions in South Africa, Botswana, and Lesotho to arrange a flight for more than 250 American citizens on April 10, 2020. The flight, a Boeing 777, is the largest airplane to ever take off from Eswatini’s airport. Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy Mbabane, Eswatini
A little girl waves an American flag in anticipation of her repatriation flight at the airport in Conakry, Guinea. Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy Conakry, Guinea
In late March 2020, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reached out to U.S. Embassy Freetown to request support in repatriating LDS members in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The church offered to fund the flight, even offering seats to other Americans in country and U.S. government personnel. This strong partnership repatriated 140 Americans back home. Photo courtesy of U.S. Diplomatic Security Service, Freetown, Sierra Leone
A Boeing 787-800 operated by Ethiopian Airlines departed on Friday April 24, 2020 from the Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe with 74 American citizens. The flight was the first of its kind in Malawi since airspace closed on April 1. Ambassador Robert Scott greeted passengers. Photo courtesy of U.S. Embassy Lilongwe, Malawi
Spotlight on Repatriation: Cameroon
When Cameroon’s borders closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Embassy Yaounde‘s General Services Officer was unable to return to post after a trip to the United States. The urgent task of managing the complex local logistics for all of the repatriation flights for Americans leaving Cameroon fell to Jason Rubin, the Assistant General Services Officer at the embassy. Jason arranged for private chartered flights as well as a Department of State chartered cargo plane to bring Americans in Cameroon home. He also implemented the system for processing the passengers as they arrived at the airport. This included checking in every passenger with required paperwork prior to boarding and advocating for any special needs such as wheelchairs and service animals.
As passengers were preparing to board the repatriation flight out of Cameroon on April 24, 2020, Jason employed his French language skills and problem solving abilities. He communicated with the airport’s ground crew regarding equipment needed to service the 747 cargo plane as well as the proper storage of meals for the passengers during the long overseas flight to Dulles Airport in Virginia.
Prior to joining the Department of State as a Foreign Service Officer, Jason served for over 20 years in the Marine Corps. His experience working on repatriating Americans during the pandemic – and seeing the relief in their eyes as they got on the plane – has been an incredibly rewarding and impactful moment in his career.