Our nation’s diplomats served on the front lines of the global COVID-19 pandemic as international first responders, as they have for 200 years. Their priority is to protect American citizens abroad during crises and repatriate them if needed.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo initiated the social media hashtag #AmericansHome to signal his support for these heroic behind-the-scenes efforts. As of June 1, 2020, the State Department had repatriated more than 98,000 American citizens during the pandemic.

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


Africa Region: Instrumental Partnerships

The United States has a long history of working with partners on the African continent to address public health challenges. These partnerships were instrumental as the State Department worked with African governments, airlines, and others to help repatriate over 10,000 Americans from African countries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Explore the Response in Africa
Embassy staff member looks at plane


Europe and Eurasia Region: Getting Home

After the outbreak in Asia and aboard cruise ships, mainland Europe quickly became the hotspot for COVID-19. Unlike other global regions, European countries did not shut down their borders, and Americans were able to return home on commercial flights; often with assistance from U.S. embassy staff who notified them when flights were available. Also, thousands of Americans who live in Europe chose to shelter in place.

Explore the Response in Europe
Three people in masks take a selfie


Near East Region: When Travel Ends

State Department officials across the Near East Region scrambled to ensure as many Americans who wanted to return home could. In Morocco, one of the first countries to close its borders, the U.S. Mission organized 13 evacuation flights and returned over 2,000 Americans Home.

Explore the Response in the Near East
U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl Miller spends a moment with a dad and his sleeping child during repatriation efforts at the airport in Dhaka, Bangladesh.


South Central Asia Region: Covering A Vast Territory

The Department of State has organized dozens of repatriation flights from South and Central Asia, including special flights home for over 3,100 U.S. citizens located in cities and villages spread across vast and often remote areas, some in lockdown conditions.

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After Consulate Wuhan’s American employees evacuated the city, eight locally employed staff members risked their health by volunteering to run departure operations for four subsequent evacuation flights.


East Asia and Pacific Region: When A Virus Hits

In response to rumors about the outbreak of an unusual respiratory illness, Wuhan Consul General Jamie Fouss formed the Wuhan Emergency Action Committee in late December 2019. Within seven days, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing issued a Health Alert about a pneumonia outbreak of unknown origin in Wuhan.

Explore the Response in East Asia and the Pacific
A woman speaks to an elderly couple in the airport in masks


Western Hemisphere Region: All Hands on Deck

Over half of the American citizens repatriated during the COVID-19 pandemic have been from the Western Hemisphere. Many needed U.S. Government assistance to be transported from remote locations to international airports. From islands in the Caribbean to remote lakes in Honduras or isolated villages in the Amazon, no location was too unreachable when Americans’ well-being was on the line.

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An Operational Medicine personnel takes the temperature of a passenger boarding in Cameroon


Operational Medicine in Action: A Deliberate and Careful Mission

The Directorate of Operational Medicine (Op Med) at the Department of State manages repatriation flights to bring Americans home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working with private sector partners, Op Med carefully protects both passengers and crew from potential exposure leading up to and during each flight. This is how one story unfolded on a mission to Brazzaville and Yaoundé April 23-25, 2020.

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NSLI-Y participants, shortly after landing on a flight from the Republic of South Korea, February 2020.


Educational and Cultural Affairs: Bringing Home America’s Citizen Diplomats

Each year, thousands of American exchange participants travel abroad on educational and cultural exchanges funded by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) and privately-sponsored programs. As citizen diplomats, these Americans gain insight into other countries and cultures and share U.S. culture and values abroad, laying a foundation for mutual understanding. The wellbeing of exchange participants is ECA’s top priority and they have facilitated the safe return of more than 3,500 Americans during the pandemic.

Explore the Repatriation of Exchange Program Participants