More than 1.1 mn stranded Indians returned home through Vande Bharat Mission

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent | Posted by Abhinav Sahay
Aug 20, 2020 10:33 PM IST

India is also in talks with 18 more countries for bilateral arrangements for Air travel.

India has brought back more than 1.1 million nationals stranded around the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic through Vande Bharat Mission, the country’s largest repatriation programme.

Vande Bharat mission is the largest repatriation exercise undertaken ever by the Indian government.(PTI Photo)
Vande Bharat mission is the largest repatriation exercise undertaken ever by the Indian government.(PTI Photo)

Vande Bharat Mission is currently in its fifth phase, during which around 500 international flights and 130 domestic feeder flights have been operated. The flights have brought back stranded Indians from 22 countries to 23 airports across the country.

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As of August 19, a total of 1.12 million stranded Indians have been repatriated by different modes under Vande Bharat Mission, external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava told a weekly news briefing on Thursday.

“Around 375 more international flights are scheduled to be operated by the end of August,” he said.

Based on an assessment of demand from India’s missions and posts abroad, flights have been added for repatriating Indian nationals from Kuwait, the Maldives, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Australia, the UK and Canada.

“In addition, the number of flights from other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries has been further augmented,” Srivastava said.

India’s bilateral air bubble arrangements with the US, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and the Maldives are functioning well, and negotiations are ongoing on air travel arrangements with 18 more countries, he said.

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These countries are Australia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Bahrain, Israel, Kenya, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

“This will benefit stranded Indians and nationals of these countries,” Srivastava said.

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India has operated the largest number of repatriation flights to countries in West Asia, including the GCC states, as the region is home to some 8 million expatriates. The largest number of stranded Indians returned from the United Arab Emirates.

Tens of thousands of Indians also returned from Nepal and other neighbouring countries through land border check posts.

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