Dubai: Stranded Pakistanis in the UAE have been warned against gathering outside their Consulate General in Dubai due to COVID-19 movement restrictions in place in the emirate.
Pakistan Consul General in Dubai Ahmed Amjad Ali has appealed to the community members who are desperate to go back home, not to come to the consulate. His warning came after a large number of stranded Pakistanis once again gathered outside the consulate during the last two days demanding to book them on special flights back to Pakistan. The rush increased following the PIA’s announcement to operate special flights to repatriate stranded Pakistanis from the UAE on April 18.
Consulate will call you individually
Consul General Ali told Gulf News that those who have already registered with the consulate would be called by the consulate staff individually. “We will call everyone according to the priority list and tell them to book their tickets on special flights,” he made it clear. Price of one way ticket on this PIA special fligt is Dh1500. The cost is almost double because aircraf will be operated with almost half the capacity due to social distancing rule in the cabin. Flight booking is not open online.
The Consul General urged people to show some patience because so far only flight has been announced for April 18 and only 200 passengers can be accommodated on this flight. “We have prepared data of passengers based on merit. We will give priority to those who came on visit visas, those who have lost jobs and those who are facing any emergency situation or have death cases,” he explained.
Consul General also made it clear that all passengers who travel to Pakistan would have to stay in quarantine for at least seven days.
Everyone will be repatriated
He said everyone who has registered with the consulate or the embassy would be repatriated but they will have to wait as it would take time to send them back home due to limited flight operateion. He revealed that the number of people who have registered with the consulate demanding to go back home has jumped to 40,000.
“The repatriation process has begun but you will have to wait for you turn,” he reiterated.
Consul General also released his video message on social media urging people to stay home and follow the instructions issued by the UAE government.
Limited airport capacity
Manwhhile, Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari, Special Assitant to Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis, said that the government would announce more special flight schedule after April 18. “We have limitations at the airports due to lack of testing and quarantine facilities but we have already increased the capacity from 2000 to 8000 people to receive passengers from abroad. This will help us clear out the number of stranded Pakistanis much earlier,” he said.
He ensured that priority would be given to stranded passengers in the UAE but they would also have to repatriate Pakistans from other Gulf countries from around the world. “He also said that priority would be given to those who are in transit, on visit visas or lost jobs,” he said, urging the Pakistani residents in the UAE to delay their return if they have work and house to live.
Bukhari said that UAE based airlines would also be given permission to operate special flights from next week.
More flights soons
Earlier, Shahid Ali Moghal, PIA’s Regional Manager in UAE, told Gulf News: “Initially, the special PIA flights will be operated from Dubai to Islamabad but later it will start landing at other airports including Lahore and Karachi as soon as quarantine facilities are ready.”
Moghal said flights would also be operated from Abu Dhabi to take stranded Pakistanis. However, he made it clear that it would be a limited flight operation in line the instructions from the government.