Dubai: More than 15,000 stranded Afghans have flown home from the UAE on over 100 flights, says a top diplomat.
Surprisingly, the number of repatriated Afghans is much higher than the number of Pakistanis and Indians sent back home on special flights so far. In fact Afghanistan repatriated the most number stranded citizens from the UAE than any other country has. Pakistan has repatriated around 12,000 stranded people while India has so far returned around 10,500.
“We were the first country to start the repatriation process for our stranded citizens in the UAE,” Masood Azizi, Consul General of Afghanistan, told Gulf News. He said that the Afghans were flown back home on three airlines, Ariana Afghan Airlines, flydubai and Air Arabia.
While repatriation process for both the Indians and the Pakistanis were much publicised by media, Afghanistan carried out the operation quietly and efficiently.
“We also registered the stranded Afghans and booked them on special flights but we did not limit our options,” Azizi said, explaining Afghans were given the option to directly book flights. “This makes our repatriation process quite smooth as we were able to send more people in short span of time,” he added.
Azizi said that priority was given to job seekers who had come to the UAE on visit visas. He said around 180,000 Afghans live and work in the UAE and only 17,000 of them had registered with the consulate for repatriation. Most of them have already gone back home.
“I am also grateful to the Afghan Business Council and other Afghan philanthropists who provided free tickets to more than 600 destitute people and helped them fly back home,” he said.
About COVID-19 tests and quarantine options for repatriated passengers after landing in Kabul, Azizi said passengers would have to undergo basic checks for any COVID-19 symptoms and then would be allowed to go home. They are advised to quarantine themselves at home for at least 14 days.
UAE relief package
Azizi also thanked the UAE government for all the support it is providing to help in the repatriation process. He also thanked the UAE leadership for providing much needed help to Afghanistan.
He said that UAE has so far sent two relief packages to help Afghanistan fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The UAE last week sent an aid plane carrying seven metric tons of medical supplies to Afghanistan. The aid would assist approximately 7,000 medical professionals as they work to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March 2020, the UAE dispatched an urgent medical aid shipment to Afghanistan containing 20,000 testing units and equipment to examine thousands of people.