Evacuation not possible now, India tells UAE

Akhilesh Suman

File Photo- MEA India Twitter Handle

File Photo- MEA India Twitter Handle

India has told UAE authorities that it will not repatriate anyone till the end of the nationwide lockdown. This was in response to UAE stating that it will facilitate Indians living on its soil to return to their country.

“India is taking all precautions just as any other country. We had finished the evacuation process earlier and there were no requests from UAE then. Now since our airports are closed for all domestic passengers due to the lockdown, it isn’t feasible to entertain requests for evacuation,” said sources in the government.

Last week, UAE sent a ‘note verbale’ to India to evacuate those who are willing to return because of the fears over the Coronavirus.

Top sources in the Ministry of External Affairs said India is in touch with the UAE to find out the context of the ‘note verbale’.

“Given the increasing fear caused by the Coronavirus among the expatriates in the United Arab Emirates, its authorities had given notice to all its embassies to evacuate those willing to return to their home country,” they said, adding that it is “not India specific.”

“At this moment we are allowing foreigners to leave India, but we are not evacuating Indians from any other country,” the sources added.

“We are also not requesting any country to take their citizens back. On the contrary, we have extended all visas that have expired till April 30 free of cost on humanitarian grounds,” the government official related to visa matters said. The Ministry of Home Affairs has notified the extension of visa.

According to information available to Rajya Sabha TV, around 2500 Indians living in UAE have requested to return. Around 1500 lost their jobs after their companies shut down in the UAE.

Indian embassies in Dubai and Abu Dhabi have requested them to stay put and not be in a hurry to return.

UAE has around 34 lakh Indians working in different professions. Indians in fact make up almost 30 per cent of its population, contributing heavily towards development and maintenance works in the UAE. Given this reason, it would be detrimental to the health of UAE’s economy if it’s in a hurry to evacuate its Indian residents.