New Delhi: The government has evacuated over 23,000 Indians from several countries under the Vande Bharat Mission, launched in view of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown across the world.
Official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Anurag Srivastava said as of Thursday afternoon since the mission began 15 days ago, 23,475 Indians had returned. It included 4,883 workers, 4,196 students and 3,087 professionals.
As many as 2,59,001 people have registered to return from 98 countries, with 28 per cent of them being workers, 25 per cent students, 14.5 per cent professionals and 7.6 per cent short-term visa holders, like tourists. Fishermen, deportees and those granted amnesty have also applied for evacuation.
Among those with compelling reasons registered to return, 16,991 were facing medical emergencies and 8,746 were pregnant and elderly persons, the spokesperson said.
The second phase of the Vande Bharat Mission began on May 16 and will last till June 13. India would bring back its nationals from 47 countries on 162 flights, Srivastava said.
Indians are being evacuated from places like Istanbul, Ho Chi Minh city, Lagos and far off countries, such as Argentina, South Africa, Peru and Mongolia.
A flight from Buenos Aires arrived on Thursday early morning with 62 Indian nationals, he said.
Around 300 pilgrims from Ladakh arrived on May 17 onboard Mahan Air flight of Iran. Indian nationals have been brought back from Djibouti and Hong Kong as well.
The government, he said, was also facilitating travel of Indians as well as foreign nationals on outbound flights. Three flights to the UK on May 16, 18 and 20 have left. Two flights have departed to the US on May 18 and 20. There are four more flights scheduled to the US and two to Frankfurt.
The spokesperson said flights to the USA and Europe had been increased and the government was exploring the option of developing Frankfurt as a hub. India is also bringing back nationals stranded abroad onboard flights from other countries, which are evacuating their own nationals.
“Operations under this very large and complex exercise are going on smoothly. The Ministry and its missions are working closely with the Ministries of Civil Aviation, Home Affairs, Health and Family Welfare, the Bureau of Immigration as well as state governments,” Srivastava said.