More than 1,000 travelers from Algeria are stuck inside an Istanbul airport after their country closed its borders to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
"The Turkish government has been making efforts for a week now to persuade the Algerian government to grant landing rights for the affected flights,” airport operator IGA said in a statement.
The operator said that it was providing meals and essentials to stranded passengers waiting to be repatriated.
“We, as IGA, Turkish Red Crescent, Turkish Airlines and Havas [bus company] have been trying to satisfy the humanitarian needs and requirements of over 1,000 Algerian visitors for several days now,” IGA said.
More than half the stranded travelers are Algerian citizens, with others from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, a spokesperson for IGA told Reuters.
Videos posted to social media this week show tired and frustrated passengers crowding the airport and complaining about conditions.
Algeria’s national air carrier, Air Algerie, announced last week it would be halting all international flights until further notice. The country’s president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, ordered the repatriation of thousands of stranded citizens and called on those stuck to be patient.
The North African country has reported 201 cases of the coronavirus, with 17 deaths, the government said on Sunday. The outbreak is centered mostly in the northern Blida province, southwest of the capital, where 17 members of the same family were infected with the virus.
According to the Interior Ministry, 7,515 Algerians have been repatriated and sent to quarantine centers in the country upon their return.