A mum-of-two who is in Spain is terrified she won't get back to her son in Malta who has Aspergers Syndrome before Sunday's government-imposed repatriation deadline.

Samantha Asensi has been in Alicante since March 4. She says - despite the COVID-19 restrictions - she had to go and pick up her 10-year-old daughter Miranda, who had been staying with Samantha's ex-husband. But now she can't get back to her 15-year-old son Daniel and her partner, who are both in Sliema.

"I'm so worried about them both. My partner has diabetes so is high risk and my son is struggling without me," says Samantha. Like many others who are still abroad, the Spanish national was contacted by Malta's Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier this week and told she could avail of a free flight from either London Heathrow or Frankfurt. But Samantha chose not to take either of these options for several reasons.

"The only way to get to Frankfurt was through Barcelona. The logistics of getting there would have meant we would have to spend two nights sleeping at the airport, as all the hotels are closed. I worried this was a risk for both of us to be around other people. While there were direct flights to London from Alicante, they cost €1,000 each."

Samantha is also concerned about how quickly rules are changing. "I'm worried that if I start to move to other countries outside Spain, laws will change and I will be stuck somewhere else. At least in Alicante, I can stay with my family."

But the strain and uncertainty is taking its toll. "I feel so responsible for everyone in my family and am so afraid of making the wrong decision. My partner says that if we don't get back to Malta by Sunday, we could be apart for six months if Malta tightens it's flight restrictions. Even if this is not true, I get very upset when I think about it."

After issuing its statement on Tuesday, the government said anyone choosing to remain abroad after Sunday, is doing so at their own risk and it will not be able to guarantee repatriation.

The call also applies to third-country nationals who hold a valid Maltese residence permit.

Anyone who needs to get back to Malta can phone the Situation Centre at the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs which remains open from 8am to 10pm from Monday to Sunday +356 2204 2200. Reservations for repatriation flights will only be accepted by email on sitcen.mfea@gov.mt. 

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