British consular offices reveal bizarre requests citizens abroad
LONDON, April 7 (Xinhua) — When it comes to Brits abroad, an army of consular staff are on hand to help out in emergencies. But a report Thursday from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) revealed some of the more bizarre “emergencies” that confronted consular officers among almost half million calls for help in the past year.
Like the lady who asked the consul in Lebanon asking for help to recruit an English butler, or a homesick expat wanting to know where he could buy bacon.
Then there was the English man planning to move to Spain who was worried he would encounter nudists walking through the streets.
In the Far East, one Briton asked the consulate for assistance to get illegal employment in Singapore while another British man in South Korea asked what he could do with his old pound notes, even though they ceased to be legal tender in 1985.
And an English woman was disappointed the British Embassy did not send someone to give her a tour of St. Petersburg on her arrival in Russia.
The FCO released details of the weirdest consular calls it has received in the past year as a reminder that people should only look to use its services for genuine emergencies.
Latest FCO figures show that over the last year almost half a million calls were made to its consular service, which provides emergency help to Britons in trouble overseas.
A spokesman for the FCO in London said: “The vast majority of calls for help were from people with genuine requests and the FCO assisted with numerous cases, helping 3,250 Brits who were hospitalized, 4,770 who were arrested, and the families of 3,670 who died overseas. Almost 38,000 replacement travel documents were issued.
“Recent research revealed almost three quarters of Brits thought the FCO could get them out of jail if they were arrested, almost a quarter thought the FCO could arrange for them to get home if they lost their ticket and 15 percent presumed the FCO would lend them money if theirs was lost or stolen,” he added.
Kelvin Green, head of the FCO’s Global Contact Centers, said: “We receive thousands of calls a year, and do all we can to help people who find themselves in difficulty abroad. But we cannot help people make travel arrangements or lifestyle plans, lend them money or pay medical and other bills for them.”