Vande Bharat Mission and Operation Samudra Setu: Phase III of Repatriation begins, More stranded Indians coming back

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Updated: Jun 12, 2020 7:48 PM

In the Phase III the number of entry points has been increased and this has been possible by expanding on the number of connecting flights.

So far the Indian Missions & Posts have registered 399081 for repatriation to India on compelling grounds. (Photo credit:- INDIAN NAVY: OPERATION SAMUDRA SETU – INS SHARDUL BRINGS BACK INDIAN NATIONALS FROM IRAN)

Phase III of the Vande Bharat Mission has started and this will go on till July 2, during which the Ministry of External Affairs in close coordination with other ministries and state agencies has plans to organize 432 flights to bring back citizens 43 countries and will be reaching 17 States & Union Territories. In the Phase III the number of entry points has been increased and this has been possible by expanding on the number of connecting flights. The hub and spoke model is being used at both ends.

Responding to queries, the official spokesperson of MEA, Anurag Shrivastava said that “So far in the first two phases of the mission, more than 1, 65, 375 Indians returned home. Now, in Phase III besides the Air India, there will be 29 flights of private airlines, including 24 IndiGo (GCC, Malaysia); 3 GoAir (GCC) and 2 Vistara (Singapore).”

The number of flights which also include private airlines has been increased keeping the growing demand of the Indians who are still stuck in faraway lands. Besides ramping up the repatriation operations from Africa where six flights have been arranged, keeping in mind the huge demand from the US and Canda more flights are going to be sent.

“There will be around 53 flights from the US, and 24 flights from Canada and also 16 flights each from Paris and Frankfurt which are to be used as hubs in Europe. And there are going to be 170 flights from GCC countries.”

Who has come back so far?

According to the official spokesperson the numbers of Indians who have returned include: 29034 migrant workers; 12774 students and 11241 professionals. Also, around 61000 Indians have returned through land border immigration checkpoints from Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

So far the Indian Missions & Posts have registered 399081 for repatriation to India on compelling grounds.

Has India helped stranded foreigners?

Yes. Before the global restrictions, India had evacuated 2468 Indian nationals and 48 foreigners from the most affected areas from February to April 2020. Also, 99,000 foreign nationals from different cities of India have been evacuated to 113 countries.

Role of Indian Navy

In a video message to the rank and file on Thursday, the Navy Chief Admiral Karambir Singh while listing out the activities that have been undertaken in an effort to assist countries in the region said that “COVID-19 Medical assistance Teams have been sent to Comoros and also provided assistance to Philippines Navy.”

“Philippines Navy ships which were in the Indian Ocean and they had sought medical support for its crew as well assistance in the repatriation of citizens from Indian ports. Also, some essential repairs were done on their ships by the Southern Naval Command. Now, the ships are moving back to the Philippines,” the chief said.

Mission SAGAR

“Under Mission Sagar, INS Kesari has been deployed for providing medical aid and support to Indian Ocean littoral states,” the chief said.

The naval ship with the consignments for various countries had left on 10th May. Its first stop was Male, Maldives and dropped off two medical assistance teams, food items, as well as the consignments of COVID-related medicines. And proceeded to Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles. Last week INS Kesari completed its deliveries at Seychelles on 6 June and it is on its way to Mauritius and then to Comoros. It will be re-embarking the two deployed medical assistance teams and will return to India.

Operation Samudra Setu

This is the Indian Navy’s contribution to the government’s efforts to facilitate the return of stranded citizens from foreign shores. Till date, a total of 3107 Indians has been brought back from Maldives (2188), Sri Lanka (686) and Iran (233) by Indian Naval ships Jalashwa, Magar and Shardul. Plans are afoot to accelerate repatriation through the sea route in June.

INS Shardul has returned with 233 Indian passengers who disembarked at Porbandar Harbour on Thursday. These Indians have been repatriated from Bandar Abbas port in Iran.

On arrival, all the passengers were screened and have been sent to the 14-day mandatory quarantine.

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