Repatriation flights from UAE to India
Repatriation flights from UAE to India Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Around 16,000 stranded Indians in the UAE have been flown home to India since the coronavirus ‘Vande Bharat’ repatriation flight began on May 7, said Indian missions in the UAE.

The Indian government operated 80 special Air India and Air India Express flights while nine others were chartered by UAE-based companies to fly home their workers.

India's Consul General to Dubai, Vipul, discusses repatriation figures Consul General of India in Dubai

The Indian Consulate in Dubai announced that 10,271 Indians were repatriated on 57 flights to various cities up until May 31.

“We also arranged sending 42 mortal remains. Doing our best to serve the community, labourers and distressed people,” the mission said in a tweet while posting an update on repatriation efforts.

Meanwhile, the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi said the number of Indians repatriated from the UAE’s Capital stood at 5,642 including workers flown home by their companies.

“A total of 23 special flights carried 4,074 passengers and nine company charters carried 1,568 workers,” the mission said in a statement to Gulf News on Monday.

One person’s mortal remains were also sent home from Abu Dhabi.

Many await more flights

However, thousands of stranded Indians are still waiting for more repatriation flights with those from different states like Maharashtra running campaigns appealing for early repatriation.

The Indian missions are also flooded with pleas from pregnant women, people with medical emergencies and those struggling after losing their job.

The number of stranded Indians flown home in three weeks has not even crossed five per cent of the applicants who have registered for repatriation with the missions here.

As first reported by Gulf News, more than 10 per cent of the Indian population in the UAE had registered for repatriation during the COVID-19 pandemic as of May 23.

Gulf News could not immediately get the latest update on the total number of registrations so far.

However, it has been learnt that the 350,000 registrations then revealed by the consulate has since grown with thousands more registering.

To meet the growing demand, the Indian government has increased the number of repatriation flights to various destinations under the Vande Bharat Mission.

It has also approved chartering of flights by companies, organisations and community groups to repatriate stranded Indians.

Sanjay Bhattacharyya, secretary to India’s Ministry of External Affairs on Sunday tweeted that the Vande Bharat Mission has scheduled additional Air India flights to Kolkata from Dubai and other foreign cities to accommodate to requests from Indians stranded abroad, who wish to travel to West Bengal.

“Contact your Embassy for details,” he said in the tweet.