Sharjah: Forty stranded Indian workers flew home from Sharjah on Saturday after social workers sponsored their tickets on a repatriation flight.
The Telugu-speaking men from India’s Telangana state were among 285 blue-collar workers made redundant by different companies in the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
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They all had spent months at a construction site in Industrial Area 3 before being provided temporary shelter in late June.
The effort was coordinated by S.V. Reddy, convener of the Non-Resident Indian Cell in Dubai for Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee, which also arranged most of the air tickets.
So far, 137 of the workers have flown home while 126 remain at the accommodation, Reddy said. Also, efforts are underway for around 32 of them to be given new jobs in two separate companies in the UAE.
The latest group of 40 workers travelled to Hyderabad city in India aboard a repatriation Air India flight under India’s ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ to bring home stranded citizens from various countries.
“We thank the Indian consulate in Dubai regarding facilitating permission for the repatriation flights. Our organisation, TPCC, helped with most of the tickets of this group of workers as well. There was a shortage of funds for some tickets, which was covered by Indian Association Sharjah [IAS] and Incas [Indian Cultural and Arts Society],” Reddy said.
The remaining workers have been provided the accommodation till July 31, he added.
“Our main aim is to send them back home as they don’t have money or jobs here anymore. We are coordinating to find another suitable place for them to stay after the end of the month, until they can travel. Meanwhile we are providing them with food and water.”
Reddy said a separate group of 15 to 20 workers is also stranded, whom TPCC will try to help next.
“We need the support of other NGOs. Seeing the situation of the workers sometimes brings tears to my eyes,” he added.
IAS president E.P. Johnson thanked Sharjah officials, including those from the police, immigration and workers’ affairs departments, for facilitating accommodation and assistance for the workers.
When the workers had been stranded, they had initially slept rough at an under-construction building as they had nowhere else to go, Reddy said.
In coordination with IAS, Sharjah government and the Indian consulate in Dubai, TPCC had arranged, food, water, masks, sanitisers, daily essentials and assistance to the workers. IAS had also supplied beds, mattresses and blankets.