About 16,000 Frenchmen were stuck in Africa due to flight problems caused by ash clouds from Iceland’s volcanic eruption, official sources told PANA in Paris, the French capital, Friday.
According to the French Foreign Affairs Ministry, about 10,000 French travellers in Tunisia could not return home before airports in Europe were close d over the ash clouds.
It said 3,000 others were in Morocco and Mauritius each at the time.
Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said all the French embassies in the African c ountries were mobilised to assist the stranded citizens with accommodation, medical assistance and money transfer.
With French airports now open, the Ministry said efforts to ensure a quick retur n home by the travellers had gathered pace.
‘The French Foreign Affairs Minister, Bernard Kouchner, asked the country’s airl ines to plan to open special flights in a bid to enable the quick return home of our compatri ots,” the Ministry said.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) which groups 250 airlines has estimated that over US$1billion losses were incurred by airlines due to the closure of European airports.