India embarks on 'massive' coronavirus repatriation
Indian embassies and high commissions are preparing lists of Indian citizens to be evacuated from Thursday
India has embarked on a “massive” operation involving naval ships and aircraft to bring back some of the hundreds of thousands of its nationals stuck abroad due to COVID-19 restrictions, the government said.
India banned all incoming international flights in late March as it imposed one of the world’s strictest virus lockdowns, leaving vast numbers of workers and students stranded.
A defense spokesman said Tuesday that two ships were steaming towards the Maldives and another to the United Arab Emirates — home to a 3.3-million-strong Indian community, who make up around 30 percent of the Gulf state’s population.
A government statement said the evacuations would begin Thursday and that Indian embassies and high commissions were preparing lists of “distressed Indian citizens.”
The consulate in Dubai said that it alone had received almost 200,000 applications, appealing on Twitter for “patience and cooperation” as India undertakes the “massive task” of repatriation.
The oil-rich Gulf is reliant on the cheap labor of millions of foreigners, mostly from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The UAE has been the most vocal among Gulf countries in demanding governments take workers back, with almost 23,000 having left as of April 20.
India had earlier evacuated some 2,500 Indians from China, Japan, Iran and Italy before banning international and domestic travel.
Courtesy: Japan Times