Vande Bharat Mission: India gets ready for Phase III of repatriating stranded citizens; Flights to Africa scheduled now!

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Published: June 5, 2020 12:28 PM

Around 3,48,565 persons have so far registered their requests with the Indian Missions and Posts for repatriation on compelling grounds.

Since May 7, when the Vande Bharat Mission started, there have been a total of 454 flights of Air India made and foreign airlines which have been bringing back stranded Indians.

Preparations are in full swing for the Phase III of repatriating Indians from six African countries, the US, Canada and others. According to the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Anurag Srivastava, “In Phase III under Vande Bharat Mission more sectors will be covered and also creating additional hubs in remote regions.”

In 337 international flights from 31 countries, including 54 from the US, 24 from Canada, 11 flights from 6 African countries (Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Seychelles, Mauritius), in Phase III, around 38,000 persons are expected to be repatriated.

Right now the Phase II is in progress and will end on June 13, and in this Air India has so far operated 103 flights. The Indian Navy has also been making sorties to bring back stranded Indians from countries including the Maldives and Sri Lanka.

Update so far

Since May 7, when the Vande Bharat Mission started, there have been a total of 454 flights of Air India made and foreign airlines which have been bringing back stranded Indians. According to Srivastava, “So far, 107123 Indians have returned. This number includes the 17485 migrant workers, 11511 students and 8633 professionals.”

“Through the land border immigration checkpoints from Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh, around 32,000 Indians have returned,” Srivastava added.

Around 3,48,565 persons have so far registered their requests with the Indian Missions and Posts for repatriation on compelling grounds.

The Ministry of External Affairs has been cording with all the related ministries, and state authorities to bring back the stranded Indians from across the globe. Also, the process of non-scheduled commercial flights has been streamlined based on the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. This means that now chartered flights as well air ambulances have been allowed to fly in.

At the MEA COVID-19 Control Room which is being manned 24×7 from March 16, more than 25,000 calls and 66,000 emails have been attended to.

Operation Samudra Setu

INS Jalashwa, which has been deployed by the Indian Navy to bring back stranded Indians, returned with passengers from Colombo, Sri Lanka and after disembarkation at Tuticorin harbour, has now sailed to the Maldives. INS Jalashwa will repatriate approximate 700 Indian nationals from the Maldives.

With the evacuation from Sri Lanka on June 3, the Indian Navy has so far repatriated 2173 Indian nationals from Maldives (1488) and Sri Lanka (685).

For getting on the flights and Indian Navy sorties, the passengers have to pay for them, as well as for mandatory quarantine facilities on arrival in India. And, as has been reported as per the Standard Operating Procedure laid down by the government, priority will be given to compelling cases of persons in distress, including migrant workers/labourers who have been laid off. Also, students, short term visa holders faced with the expiry of visa, and those with medical emergency including pregnant women, elderly and those who have to return due to a death in the family.

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