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‘It’s like a refugee camp’ - Woman, 54, fears for health after being left stranded in New Zealand

PUBLISHED: 15:28 23 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:31 23 March 2020

A 54-year-old woman says she has been left ‘high and dry’ after becoming stranded in a ‘refugee camp’ with her ex-husband in New Zealand. Photo: Marie Young / Google Maps

A 54-year-old woman says she has been left ‘high and dry’ after becoming stranded in a ‘refugee camp’ with her ex-husband in New Zealand. Photo: Marie Young / Google Maps

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A 54-year-old woman says she has been left ‘high and dry’ after becoming stranded in a ‘refugee camp’ with her ex-husband in New Zealand.

It was meant to be the three week holiday of a lifetime for Marie Young, from Beccles, but could go on to be months of uncertainty after her flights were cancelled while New Zealand enters a lockdown over the spread of coronavirus. Photo: Marie YoungIt was meant to be the three week holiday of a lifetime for Marie Young, from Beccles, but could go on to be months of uncertainty after her flights were cancelled while New Zealand enters a lockdown over the spread of coronavirus. Photo: Marie Young

It was meant to be the three week holiday of a lifetime for Marie Young, from Beccles, but could go on to be months of uncertainty after her flights were cancelled while New Zealand enters a lockdown over the spread of coronavirus.

Mrs Young, a musician well known as the Beccles Harp busker, and her ex-husband Geoffrey are currently stranded on a campsite in Christchurch on the southern island of New Zealand after their flight back to the UK on Thursday, March 26, was cancelled.

Mrs Young, who recently overcame cancer, says she is worried for her health amid the spread of Covid-19, and says the UK embassy ought to do more to bring the hundreds of British holidaymakers stuck in New Zealand back home.

“When Australia shut its borders last week we were told to contact our airline as you cannot get back to the UK via Sydney any more, but our airline have stopped all travel agents from doing re-bookings,” she said.

Marie Young and her ex-husband Geoffrey are currently stranded on a campsite in Christchurch, on the southern island of New Zealand. Photo: Marie YoungMarie Young and her ex-husband Geoffrey are currently stranded on a campsite in Christchurch, on the southern island of New Zealand. Photo: Marie Young

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“Now the number for our travel agent is disconnected and you can’t get through to anyone. New Zealand is about to stop all flights so we have been left high and dry.”

New Zealand has been in a ‘Level 3’ lockdown over coronavirus, and from Wednesday, March 25, the country will enter Level 4 - meaning all non-essential workers must stay home, and flights will be stopped.

“We have nowhere to go and no money, we have been left stranded and our only hope is to be repatriated by the UK embassy, but they will only deal with kidnaps, terrorists, and deaths,” Mrs Young said.

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Describing the campsite she and her ex-husband are staying in with hundreds of other European tourists as “like a refugee camp”, Mrs Young said: “I’m going to be left totally homeless. We’re in a caravan that costs £100 per night, and they have said we can still use this but they will soon kick us off the site.

“That means we won’t have running water or a toilet. We just need to come home.”

Mrs Young added she felt her and her ex-husband were being treated suspiciously by New Zealanders, who “are asking how long we have been here and telling us not to breathe near them”.

The New Zealand government has increased its number of domestic flights before the lockdown for travellers to return home, and UK government advice says: “If you are unable to leave New Zealand and your visa is nearing expiry, you should contact the New Zealand authorities as soon as possible.”


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