Coronavirus: Can Indian expats be evacuated and flown back home?

covid-19, coronavirus, V. Muraleedharan, airport, evacuation flight

Dubai - On March 24, India declared a 21-day lockdown, restricting the movement of around 1.3 billion people to curb the spread of coronavirus.


Anjana Sankar

Published: Sun 5 Apr 2020, 7:41 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2020, 8:09 AM

Non-resident Indians stranded abroad cannot be evacuated and brought back home during the lockdown period when there are no flights operating in and out of India, a senior Indian minister has said.

V. Muraleedharan, Minister of State for External Affairs, has urged expat Indians to stay put wherever they are, and has assured that his ministry will make necessary arrangements for their welfare.

"Our government's policy toward all expats waiting to return home is the same. We cannot arrange special chartered flights for any particular group during this lockdown," said the minister in a Facebook post.

On March 24, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared a 21-day lockdown in India restricting the movement of around 1.3 billion people to curb the spread of coronavirus. People are not allowed to go outside and all inbound and outbound flight services are also suspended in India.

Muraleedharan said he has been inundated with requests from Indians asking the ministry to make arrangements for their safe return in the wake of travel restrictions introduced world over amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Explaining the government's inability to entertain such requests when the country is under a total lockdown, the minister said, "If you face any issues in the host countries, please contact your embassies or the foreign ministry. We will intervene on your behalf to ensure you are taken care of."

India has the biggest diaspora community worldwide with a 17.5 million living in different parts of the world. UAE alone is home to an estimated nearly three million Indians.

Non-resident Indians who wish to contact the ministry of external affairs can call the tollfree number 1899128797.

More news from Coronavirus