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Financial support announced for Australians stranded overseas

(Xinhua)    16:24, September 03, 2020

CANBERRA, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government has announced a loan scheme for Australians stranded overseas amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Marise Payne, the minister for foreign affairs, on Wednesday announced that Australians who have not been able to return to the country due to financial hardship will be able to apply for loans to pay for living expenses.

The government has come under pressure to lift its cap on international arrivals, which is currently set at 4,000 per week, after Australians overseas said it has resulted in a scarcity of flights and expensive flight prices.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) recently revealed that 23,000 Australians overseas have registered with the government to come home - up from 18,000 in late August.

Approximately 3,000 of those people are considered "vulnerable" because of health problems or financial hardship, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

However, the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia estimates that the number of Australians stuck overseas was over 100,000.

Payne said that the loan scheme should be a "last resort" for those overseas.

"We do understand that many Australians have found themselves in difficult circumstances resulting from the pandemic and travel restrictions globally," she said.

"The program we are announcing today will alleviate some of this hardship."

In response, the opposition Labor Party accused the government of abandoning the stranded Australians, describing the loan scheme as an "attempt to get a headline."

"The 23,000 Australians stranded overseas need more than empty announcements - they need a plan to get home," Penny Wong, Labor's foreign affairs spokesperson, said.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Liang Jun)

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