Seven flights with stranded Indians from abroad to arrive today

Seven flights with stranded Indians from abroad to arrive today

NEW DELHI:

Seven flights are expected to arrive in India on Saturday with hundreds of Indians stranded in several countries due to the coronavirus pandemic under India’s mammoth repatriation operation codenamed Vande Bharat.

The flights coming in on Saturday are from the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Oman and Malaysia. They are expected to touch down in New Delhi, Lucknow, Chennai, Hyderabad and Trichy, according to a Indian government programme.

Two more flights — from the UK and Qatar — are expected in the early hours on Sunday. These flights would arrive at the Mumbai and Kochi airports.

Priority has been given to bring back “asymptomatic” migrant labourers or workers from abroad who have been laid off, short term visa holders face with visa expiry issues, persons with medical emergency, pregnant women, the elderly, students, and those required to return to India due to the death of a family member.

These Seven flights are part of the first phase of the massive Vande Bharat mission which started on 7 May and will run till 13 May. It involves bringing back people from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Bangladesh, Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, the UK and the US on 64 flights. Some 15,000 people are to be brought home during the week during the mission that is expected to eclipse India’s largest repatriation mission to date — undertaken during the first Gulf War in the early 1990s when New Delhi airlifted 177,000 of its people from Iraq and Kuwait.

According to people familiar with the development, India will expand the scope of the mega Vande Bharat mission from 15 May to bring home stranded citizens from countries like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Germany, Spain and Thailand.

Rohith Kukkadapu

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