UPDATE: UGA Students Trapped When Peru Closes Border

Frustrated with U.S. lack of communication

March 21, 2020
The group of 15 students are stranded in Peru

(Photo Credit: CAIR Ga)

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UPDATE - 445pm est - Sunday, March 22, 2020: 

According to CAIR Legal & Policy Director Murtaza Khawaja: "A U.S. university has been ready and waiting to charter a flight to get American students out of Cusco, Peru, where they've been stranded but the State Dept must sign off, and has been unresponsive. Peruvian officials have indicated that charter flights into and out of Peru are possible, the permit just must be requested by the US embassy in Peru."

Original Story

Murtaza Khawaja, is Legal and Policy Director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He says his office was contacted on behalf of three Muslim students, part of a group studying in Peru.  They were pleading for help after the country closed its border because of the coronavirus and disallowed the students passage out of the country. 

Khawaja says the group of 15 students, from various schools in Georgia and Alabama, are trapped under Martial Law as the country deals with the COVID-19/coronavirus outbreak.

The students are from the southeast, the majority are from Georgia.

According to Khawaja, "They were not on vacation, they were on clinical rotations for school."  He says his issue with the country is that it did not provide enough notice before closing the border. He also criticizes the U.S. for not coordinating with Peru for travel for the students. "If American officials do not stand up for their citizens here this is going to compromise the safety of all Americans traveling abroad and encourage foreign governments to act against American interests if they know that there's no follow up by the American government."

As I was completing this story Saturday evening Khawaja messaged "The latest information I have is that the US government has put in a request for a charter flight to take the students back home and are waiting for the Peruvian government to approve."