Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Jamil Khan, Senior Reporter
Hundreds of stranded Pakistani community members gathered outside the Consulate for getting a place on special repatriation flights. The open air tent with two regular air-cooling fans was not enough to give them any relief.
Officials on the condition of anonymity told Gulf Today on Tuesday that the makeshift tent was set up recently for the stranded community members.
“To follow the government’s protocol on COVID-19, we have to take steps like keeping social distance and many other precautions to remain safe from the coronavirus. But what we have been experiencing for the last couple of days is that a huge number of stranded community members rushed to get a seat on the upcoming special repatriation flights. The people who came here were unable to register online in the first place as a majority of them are blue-collar workers and have no knowledge of operating online registration by themselves,” Murad, a young Pakistani expatriate, said.
The officials outside the consulate are helping these community members with manual registration while many had other issues like expired passports and similar things to be sorted out.
Siraj told Gulf Today that two days ago he got a call from the consulate but he missed it as he was praying when the phone rang.
“As soon I was free I called back to get some information on my registration for the repatriation flight but the official was not helpful. I’ve been here since morning and now they told me to wait for another call. They (officials) should be more helpful as we came all the way from Sharjah industrial area,” he said.
Mubeen, another expatriate, said that his passport expired last month and he was told to visit the consulate to get a special extension.
“There should be a system to benefit the community members but what we are facing is lack of information. First it was difficult to reach the main entrance of the consulate where the officials were deputed to give information. But the huge number of people in a small space was not an easy option for everyone for fear of contracting the coronavirus. I was handed back my passport with a valid stamp of one-year extension after over 3 hours,” he said.
The government of Pakistan has increased the number of special repatriation flights from the UAE with the engagement of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and Emirates to bring more stranded community members to Pakistan. So far over 15,000 stranded community members have been repatriated and over 3,000-4,000 will go back in the next two weeks.
“Pakistani missions in UAE have successfully repatriated around 2870 stranded Pakistanis using 15 special flights, 56 non-corona dead bodies have also been repatriated over the last two weeks and with the operation of more flights, these numbers will increase.”
The Pakistani consulate in the United Arab Emirates is doing a tremendous job on the instruction of its government to facilitate stranded Pakistanis and bring them back to the country.
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