A New Zealand citizen has become increasingly desperate to come home after spending the last two weeks trying to catch a flight out of Peru.

Emma Huamash Bejarano has been in South America since January visiting her mother and extended family, her husband Lawrence Charles said.

She had gone to visit after a tragic explosion claimed the lives of three of her nieces and nephews, and was helping to cook and clean for her brother's family.

But as coronavirus began to spread around the globe, the Te Puke woman began hunting for a way to get home - with no luck.


She was due to catch a flight back to New Zealand today, but found out about 13 days ago the flight was cancelled.

"She's been trying to get on any flight ever since," Charles said.

"I think that's less and less likely."

Huamash Bejarano was supposed to be back in time for her daughter's 7th birthday, but now is likely to miss it.

Emma Huamash Bejarano (left) is trapped in South America away from her husband Lawrence Charles and daughters, Isabella, 9, and Sofia, 6. Photo / Supplied
Emma Huamash Bejarano (left) is trapped in South America away from her husband Lawrence Charles and daughters, Isabella, 9, and Sofia, 6. Photo / Supplied

Charles is working full time from home while also caring for the couple's two daughters, aged 6 and 9.

"I don't have any other family in Oceania so if I go down my two young girls have no one, really. It's kind of a bad situation that I don't want to be in."

The couple have sought help from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) but have not received any assistance to get Huamash Bejarano home.

"She's been in lockdown since about March 16th or 17th."


The silver lining was that she was with family and had a bed to sleep in, but Charles feared she might not make it home for another two or three months.

"She's calling me day in day out more stressed every day."

He said his wife was becoming "worried and desperate" as each day went by.

An email sent to Huamash Bejarano from Mfat yesterday said the New Zealand Government was considering all possible options for helping New Zealanders overseas.

"The situation is extremely complex and changing quickly and some things are out of our control," it said.

"This is an increasingly difficult situation and we fully appreciate the heightened stress many travellers are facing. There is some advice on SafeTravel for sheltering in place, including some contingency planning for New Zealanders overseas."

An Mfat spokeswoman would not comment on Huamash Bejarano's case, but directed the Herald to the SafeTravel website.

"We recognise that not all New Zealanders who want to return home are able to do so. New Zealanders who cannot return home for the time being should take steps to stay safely where they are," the website said.

"The Government is committed to helping New Zealanders overseas where we can. But the international situation is complex and changing quickly, and some things are out of our control. Assisted departure flights should not be relied upon to get home."

Emma Huamash Bejarano is stuck in Peru. Photo / Supplied
Emma Huamash Bejarano is stuck in Peru. Photo / Supplied

SafeTravel's advice for Kiwis trapped overseas to stay safe where they are

• Follow the advice of local authorities. Be ready to comply with local isolation or quarantine requirements and to rely on the local health system. Find out how to access healthcare in case it becomes necessary to do so

• Take care to minimise your risk of exposure to Covid-19 by following the advice of the World Health Organisation and New Zealand Ministry of Health

• Find suitable accommodation

• Make sure you have access to enough medication if you are overseas for longer than planned

• Keep your family and friends regularly informed of your plans and wellbeing

• Monitor local media for developments

• Be prepared for logistical and financial disruption. Make sure you can access money to cover emergencies and unexpected delays. New Zealanders facing financial hardship overseas should seek assistance from family or friends or contact their bank in the first instance. Check with your insurance provider to see if they can help

• Look after yourself – your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Stay in touch with your usual supports – family and whānau, friends and workmates, especially if you are self-isolating. Further tips can be found on the Government's website (www.covid19.govt.nz)

• Register on SafeTravel and keep checking the website for updates

• For more detailed country-specific advice, check the office travel advice of the US, UK and Australia too

• Contact your nearest New Zealand Embassy or Consulate if you require consular assistance. Contact details are listed in each country page on the SafeTravel website. For urgent consular assistance after-hours, please contact 0064 99 20 20 20 (monitored 24 hours a day).

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website