45K Indian nationals evacuated under Vande Bharat Mission so far

45K Indian nationals evacuated under Vande Bharat Mission so far

NEW DELHI: The government under the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) has so far evacuated over 45,000 Indian nationals stranded abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown. The official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Anurag Srivastava, revealed in a virtual media briefing that of the 45,216 Indians who have returned, 8,069 are migrant workers, 7,656 students and 5,107 professionals. Around 5,000 Indians have returned through the land border immigration checkpoints from Nepal and Bangladesh.

So far, 3,08,200 persons have registered their request with the Indian missions abroad for repatriation to India on compelling grounds. On Tuesday, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had a detailed review meeting with all the stakeholders. The focus of the meeting was to ramp up the scale of the VBM and to enhance its efficiency.

We are targeting to bring back 100,000 passengers from 60 countries by the end of Phase II,” the spokesperson said. The VBM, he said, is in full swing with Phase I successfully completed from May 7 to May 16, during which 16,716 stranded Indians returned to the country.

In Phase II of VBM from May 17 to June 13, 429 Air India flights (311 international flights and 118 feeder flights) from 60 countries are scheduled to land in India. The Indian Navy will be making four more sorties to bring back returnees from Iran, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, the spokesperson said.

He said the government is also assisting the return of stranded Indians from remote locations in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and parts of Europe. This is being done with the help of foreign carriers flying to India primarily for evacuation of their nationals. Recently, about 300 stranded Indians from Peru, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Portugal and the Netherlands were brought in.

Private airlines and chartered flights have also been included in the VBM now. The numbers are expected to go up in the coming days, Srivastava said.