Indians stranded in the UAE and other foreign countries are appealing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow them to return home. India is one of many countries that has barred its own citizens oversea from returning, by imposing international travel bans, as the world deals with the novel coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19. Many Indians have taken to Twitter last week to request Modi to open international flights for repatriation of stranded citizens, and others have called out the Indian government on the earlier decision of not evacuate.
Visa of some India migrant workers in the UAE have expired and some of them have laid off, but their home country is hesitating to take them back as there is concern to do not have the capacity to place them in quarantine after their return. Spelling trouble for migrant workers, the UAE plans to impose restrictions on countries not responding their citizens evacuation request.
Indian Ambassador to the UAE, Pavan Kapoor, told on April 11 that the Indian government has taken the decision for the safety of Indians. ‘Gulf News’ reported, adding that the country cannot take the risk of evacuating a large number of people from foreign countries while it is concentrating on breaking the chain of infection inside the country. The Indian government had “refused permission to chartered flight services even though some airlines were ready to operate special flights”. A petition seeking chartered flights to fly back Indians stranded in the UAE was also filed before the Supreme Court of India by the migrant welfare society Pravasi Legal Cell.
A ministry official told UAE State news agency that options currently being studied by MOHRE include the halting of any memoranda of understanding between the Ministry and the concerned authorities of non-cooperative countries, as well as the introduction of restrictions or quotas for future recruitment. Although the UAE government has extended the validity of visas, stating that Indians who have an expired visa will be able to stay in the country without incurring penalties, authorities stressed the urgency of foreign countries assuming their responsibilities towards their nationals in the UAE wishing to return back home with their families during the pandemic.
The UAE ministry in cooperation with the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the General Civil Aviation Authority, and the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, also launched an humanitarian initiative to enable residents working in the private sector to return to their home countries as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Indian mission in UAE said is facilitating 3.4 million coronavirus-hit Indian expats, lending a helping hand to many of them with accommodation, food, medicines and counselling. Together with the Department of Health, UAE, the Indian Embassy is enabling alternative accommodation for COVID-19 positive expats who are living in clustered shared accommodations. Kapoor told this is in order to control the spread of the disease, but it’s not enough. Indian authorities should work immediately with UAE so that its citizens, who wish to do it, can come back home.
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