Afghan evacuees object to mandatory quarantine

The government has cited the unknown immunisation status of the evacuees and the extent of the Covid-19 pandemic in Afghanistan and said they will have to undergo the quarantine
Evacuees were flown in from Kabul to Delhi on Tuesday, August 24. (Courtesy: MEA/Twitter)
Evacuees were flown in from Kabul to Delhi on Tuesday, August 24. (Courtesy: MEA/Twitter)
Updated on Aug 25, 2021 03:18 PM IST
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ByUmar Sofi

The 14-day institutional quarantine mandated for Afghan evacuees has not gone down well with many of them saying they are fully vaccinated. The government has cited the unknown immunisation status of the evacuees and the extent of the Covid-19 pandemic in Afghanistan and said they will have to undergo the quarantine. Officials said among the evacuees, 16 tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday. Two of them have been admitted to Delhi’s Lok Nayak Hospital while others were asymptomatic.

A woman, who said she spent five sleepless nights at the Kabul airport along with her two-year-old son before her evacuation, said she is fully vaccinated and has been administered Johnson & Johnson vaccine. She added she also tested negative for Covid-19 upon arrival. “Yet a police constable would accompany me even if I went to the washroom,” she said, requesting anonymity. She said she could not feed her son for three days as they travelled to India via Tajikistan. “... we reached the Delhi airport at 9 am (on Tuesday). Until 10 pm (Tuesday), we were not allowed to go… While they served us breakfast. We did not get lunch.”

Another Afghan national said he too has received two doses of Covishield vaccine and also tested negative, but he was still quarantined at an Indo-Tibetan Border Police camp in New Delhi.

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An evacuee shared the pictures from the quarantine centre and complained about a lack of privacy. “There are no curtains separating the beds or any walls or rooms for us to feed our babies at ease,” said the third evacuee.

Another evacuee said the government has deployed six policemen for every 10 Afghan nationals. He added he is 28 and unvaccinated since people in his age group are yet to be vaccinated in Afghanistan. But he also tested Covid-19 negative. The 28-year-old said his family has been living in India since last year when they lost some of their relatives in a blast near a gurudwara in Kabul. “...families of such victims were relocated to Delhi including mine. But I found no job here. So, I returned home. Many of us have houses here but despite that government is sending us to a camp for quarantine. How can our sisters sleep in a corridor with no walls.” He said the government should quarantine them in a gurudwara.

He said some of those in their group of around 50 Afghan Sikhs, who arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday, sent them videos of the centre. “There are insects...and rats...under the beds,” he told HT from the Delhi Airport as he waited for his paperwork to be completed.

A fifth evacuee said they have been exhausted. “We struggled to even make it to the Kabul airport. We have not slept for over a week and hardly ate anything. The government should understand this and make some better arrangements.”

The 28-year-old said rather than putting them in a camp, they should quarantine them in a gurudwara.

HT tried to reach out to officials for comments but there was no immediate response. The copy will be updated if they respond.

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Friday, December 03, 2021