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Indian consulate in Dubai. Image Credit: K.P. Devadasan/Gulf News archives

Dubai: The Indian Consulate in Dubai has appealed to workers seeking repatriation during the COVID-19 pandemic not to throng the mission for air tickets.

Thousands of workers desperate to fly home have been queuing up at the premises of the mission in the past few days, Consul General of India in Dubai Vipul told Gulf News while reiterating his appeal to community members to refrain from doing so.

In a video message released on Monday evening, Vipul had appealed to the community, especially workers not to visit the mission for tickets.

“I see that a lot of people are still coming to the consulate in the hope that they will get a ticket from here. This is not true,” he said in the video message.

He said the consulate was accepting forms from them though the mission had involved community members so that it acts in full honesty and transparency in picking up needy people from among those who had registered for repatriation through its website.

“We will continue this effort and we are trying to do our best,” he said while urging Indians to connect with the mission only through phone or emails.

“We understand the pain and anguish of everyone who is coming here, who is still waiting for his turn or her turn to go back to India. But please have patience. More flights are coming and people would be able to return to India.”

He said congregating on the premises of the consulate is not right both from the perspective of law and social distancing that needs to followed in view of COVID-19.

“And also in the heat, people should not be standing outside,” he said.

Awareness message

The consulate had also aired the message through various Indian radio channels to spread awareness among the workers.

However, a large number of workers continued to visit the consulate in the past few days, Vipul told Gulf News on Thursday evening.

“Around 1,500 to 2,000 people have been visiting the consulate these days. The day after the Eid holidays, there were around 4,000 people.”

Photos of the long queues of workers wearing masks standing in the scorching heat have been widely shared on social media.

Vipul emphasised that the passengers for repatriation are selected from those who have registered online.

“Priority is being given to workers as well as pregnant women, people with medical emergencies, stranded visitors et. More priority is being given to workers these days.”

Over 40 per cent returnees are workers

According to the consulate, around 6,000 passengers out of the 14,000 people repatriated from Dubai since May 7 have been workers in distress.

A couple of companies have flown their employees and their families on charter flights too.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday said a total of 454 flights, including those by foreign carriers, brought home 107,123 Indians under the Vande Bharat Mission since May 7. They included 17,485 migrant workers, 11,511 students and 8,633 professionals, the ministry’s spokesperson Anurag Srivastava stated in New Delhi.

How to reach the Indian Consulate

Toll free helpline: 800 46342,

24x7 emergency numbers: 0543090575, 0565463903

e-mail:cons2.dubai@mea.gov.in,

Twiiter: @cgidubai

Facebook page: India in Dubai