India to undertake biggest evacuation of citizens stranded abroad amid coronavirus pandemic

India is preparing the ground for what is billed as the biggest evacuation of its citizens, millions of them, stranded in several countries abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic beginning with the registration forms being opened online onTuesday, May 5, on their respective Indian embassy website.

Once the information is collected, India’s flag carrier Air India is ready to screen and repatriate all those willing to return home, including the United States, Europe and Asia. Quoting a senior official, ANI reported that the Indian missions will be asked to compile a list through this registration and repatriation will be coordinated with respective states. This registration exercise would help the Government of India to assess and plan for the return of Indian nationals wishing to return home for “compelling” reasons.

ANI further reported that the government has listed some categories, who would be given priority and who will get accommodated in special repatriation flights, followed by the students stranded in foreign countries. “The Middle East will first be the focus. We are still formulating if the citizens stranded will be airlifted by the Air India or commercial flights,” the source told ANI.

It is learnt from Kerala that more than 25 lakh Keralites are stranded in several Gulf countries and seeking to return home immediately. “On landing in India, every citizen will be screened to figure out if the person should be sent to quarantine centres or straight to the hospital,” the official added.

On those who are stranded in the US, the official told ANI, “The exact number of Indians stranded in the United States is still to be gathered, but the New York jurisdiction of the Indian mission alone has more than a million Indians, who have shown a willingness to return to their homes.”

However, there is no official confirmation of any evacuation flight from the US to India so far though many NRI organisations are coordinating with the authorities on evacuation plans, mainly for stranded students and visitors. ANI reported that the main purpose of this information sheet is to collect actionable data on Indian nationals willing to travel to India urgently. The registration is likely to be finished by Thursday and further plans will be announced by the government.

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