SINGAPORE — Over 300 Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) employees continue to serve at Singapore's overseas missions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in Parliament on Monday (1 March).
These men and women have remained at their posts "unflinchingly" with many "still separated from their loved ones", Dr Balakrishnan said during the MFA's Committee of Supply debate.
On top of flying the Singapore flag abroad, these officers also keep in touch with Singaporeans overseas and help those who wish to come home, he noted. They also work with health and economic agencies to ensure the continued flows of food, medical supplies and vaccines into Singapore.
Dr Balakrishnan also revealed that some MFA employees had contracted COVID-19 while serving overseas and they have recovered, without specifying any numbers or locations.
Last year, MFA conducted its largest-ever consular operation when it worked round the clock to bring over 4,500 Singaporeans and their families home, Dr Balakrishnan said. MFA officers have also been working with Malaysian authorities to help over 350 Singaporeans who are elderly, minors or have disabilities to reunite with their families in Singapore.
These efforts were helped by the "diplomatic capital" that Singapore had built up over the years, he added. In places with no Singapore embassies, MFA reached out to its partners – such as Japan, France, Taiwan and the UK – to help bring Singaporeans home, said Dr Balakrishnan.
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