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Blocked abroad because of Covid-19

How Bulgaria helped a deaf girl stranded at Israeli airport

Photo: EPA/BGNES

When the Covid-19 pandemic limited air travel around the world, many international flights were delayed and many people were blocked at airports. They could not leave the country in which they were on a business trip or vacation, and at the same time hotels were closed. This way the only possible but illegal shelter turned out to be closed airports.

A deaf Bulgarian girl found herself in a similar situation when her flight from the Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv was canceled. We can only guess how she felt when instead of boarding the plane to Bulgaria she found herself stranded at the airport. She did not even realize that a state of emergency had been declared because of the pandemic. It was also impossible to return to Tel Aviv due to the strict anti-epidemic measures introduced by Israeli authorities. It is a true miracle how the Bulgarian managed to spend five whole days at the airport until she met a Russian citizen who reported about her at the Bulgarian embassy in Tel Aviv. The signal was received by Nikolay Zashev, head of the consular service at the Bulgarian embassy, who immediately contacted the Bulgarian girl.

"The very same day I went to visit her at the airport and brought her food. It was during the quarantine measures. She was in a very unpleasant situation, unable to communicate freely with other people. She had come to Israel as a tourist and when she was going to leave, she realized that the flight of the Bulgarian airline had been canceled. We made every effort to help her. The ambassador distributed the tasks and we started looking for the first possible flight to return to Bulgaria."


The first option for return to Bulgaria was a flight three days later, but that would have meant staying for three more days at the airport. A local travel company found a ticket and helped solving the problem with transfers through Minsk, Paris and Barcelona, which was the only possibility for the girl to leave imediately:

"In the whole time I kept in touch with the consuls in Minsk and Paris, who also assisted in her safe return home. Subsequently, one of the Paris flights was canceled. We immediately contacted her and helped her continue. Finally, after all the hardships, she returned safely to Bulgaria. She confirmed her arrival and thanked me. I do not think that what I did was heroism as I would do it for anyone. It's just that her case was little more special," Nikolay Zashev says.

We hope that the story of the Bulgarian tourist in Israel will serve as a reminder for everyone in such a situation. It is recommended to have the current telephone numbers of the Bulgarian diplomatic missions in the countries we visit and not hesitate to seek help when needed.

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: EPA/BGNES

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