Finance & Economy | News & Insights


Published: May 6, 2020

India is going to undertake the world’s largest peacetime evacuation programme tomorrow (Thursday), repatriating Indians stranded abroad, mostly West Asia, on navy ships and special passenger aircraft. Nearly 8 million Indian live in the Gulf nations alone, India is expecting  to evacuate only 1.9 lakh in the first phase. It will be the largest peacetime evacuation by any nation yet — more than the 170,000 India evacuated from Kuwait during the Gulf war in 1990. This week, India is to evacuate 14,800 from the Philippines, Singapore, Bangladesh, UAE, UK, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Singapore, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and the US, say reports.

The mode: At least three naval ships set off for Maldives and UAE on Tuesday — INS Jalashwa and INS Magar to the former and INS Shardul to Emirates. They will return with evacuees to the Cochin port in Kerala. India has also pressed into service 60 commercial flights for the cause; news agency ANI reports 10 flights will operate on Thursday. The evacuees are to pay for the flight tickets and for the 14-day quarantine at hospitals or similar facilities upon arrival, Times of India reports.

The need: As businesses shut following the coronavirus outbreak, a majority of the Indian emigrants in the Gulf nations have been eking out without a job or pay and India’s suspension of international flights in March meant they were unable to return on their own. A majority of the Indians in West Asia are low- or semi-skilled workers, employed in construction, retail and as handymen or drivers. Their perilous situation has been a concern for their families back home, pressuring the state governments and union ministry of external affairs to act. The online registration states started recently has seen a deluge of requests for evacuation — Kerala’s website, for instance, has over 400,000 requests.

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