The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
The biggest slice of the ongoing phase of repatriation flights for Indians affected by coronavirus disruptions worldwide has been set apart for the GCC countries, Anurag Srivastava, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs said on Friday.
The latest phase of these repatriation flights, known as the "Vande Bharat Mission," (VBM) began on March 1 and will last till March 28. Slightly more than 1,350 international flights are scheduled to be operated from 28 countries in this phase, enabling an estimated 260,000 Indians to travel home.
Of these, nearly 920 flights accounting for 68 per cent of the total are from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Srivastava said. Until Thursday, about 6.15 million Indians from all over the world have been repatriated, a large bulk of them owing to Coronavirus disruptions since the VBM flights began on May 7, last year.
Repatriation under the VBM is made up of Indian government owned carriers, Indian private airlines, foreign carriers, chartered flights, naval ships and land border crossings. Srivastava said India presently has bilateral air bubble arrangements with 27 countries including five GCC states.
Air bubbles are temporary arrangements between two countries aimed at restarting commercial passenger services when regular international flights are suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. India is yet to resume regular international commercial flights, which were suspended early last year during a lockdown.
Compared to the large number of flights from the GCC under the VBM, only about 150 flights are from North America, around 120 from the UK and Europe, around 100 from South East Asia and around 50 from India’s neighbourhood, the spokesperson said.
Latin American countries are bracing for difficult weeks ahead as the disease spreads rapidly across the region, even as much of the world exits lockdowns that have wrecked economies and stripped millions of their jobs.
Briefing the media on the progress of Phase IV of the mission, known as "Vande Bharat," Srivastava said the additional flights will from GCC countries, Malaysia, Singapore, the UK, Europe, Kyrgyzstan, and Ukraine.
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) announced on Monday that it conducted 82,000 additional COVID-19 tests over the past 24 hours, using state-of-the-art medical testing equipment.
Kuwait has suspended all flights from India until further notice, Bahrain has updated International arrival procedures for passengers from India. Germany is sharply restricting travel from India and Iran has banned all flights to and from India and Pakistan.
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“SP will be missed…may his memory is a blessing… we all continue to be inspired by his life and ideals,” Sheikh Nahyan said. “I greatly admired his wisdom and generosity, and I continue to marvel at all that was accomplished by him,” Sheikh Nahyan added.