Abu Dhabi: The Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor on Tuesday urged Indian expatriates here to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
He was speaking at the 72nd Indian Republic Day celebrations at the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi, which was live-streamed on social media for the expat community.
Kapoor, who hoisted the Indian flag in the premises of the Indian Embassy with only the officials and their families in attendance, sent out an appeal to the community members to be vaccinated in his speech.
“We are pleased that the vaccine roll-out has started both here and in India and I would encourage all of you to get vaccinated as per the guidelines here so that we can all assist in this process to try and take away the scourge of the pandemic as soon as possible.”
“We have to make sure that even after getting vaccinated we don’t let our guard down. There are different variants of the pandemic virus which still keep coming up. So, please do continue to maintain all the safeguards of social distancing, wearing masks at all time, and continue to take precautions. This [pandemic] is still bit of a way off although there is clearly light at the end of the tunnel.”
The UAE has opened several vaccine centres in government and private health care facilities across the country to provide free COVID-19 vaccines to all residents and citizens.
India-UAE during pandemic
He highlighted that India is currently supplying Indian-made vaccine to many neighbouring countries and had extended its support to the UAE during the beginning of the pandemic to ensure that food supply here was not affected.
“Throughout the pandemic we have tried to ensure that the relationship the UAE and India continue to remain strong. Right from the beginning of the pandemic, the leaders on both sides have spoken to each other on a regular basis and coordinated policies,” he said, particularly highlighting the cooperation in food security and health care.
He mentioned the initiatives of India sending medical supplies and professionals here and the UAE gifting PPE kits to India. High level visits by India’s External Affairs Minister and his junior during the pandemic were also highlighted.
The envoy thanked the community, associations, individuals and officials for their support to the mission during the peak of the pandemic especially during the repatriation of stranded Indians and those who lost jobs.
Return of Indians stuck back home
He also promised that the missions would continue to work towards facilitating the return of Indians who are still stuck back home without getting ICA approval to return.
“I know there are a lot of people who are still wanting to come back here and resume their jobs or get back to their friends and families,” he said, promising that every such case that is brought to the notice would be taken up with the UAE authorities.
“I know that many people here have lost their jobs and livelihoods. But, I am also glad to see that many people have come back — people who had gone back to India whether for medical or other reasons. We are working to ensure that more individuals will be able to come back.
1.15m Indians came back
As many as 1.15 million of 1.3 million Indians who had flown home from the UAE since May 2020 have so far returned according to the latest figures with the Indian missions. The UAE is home to more than three million Indians.
“The Indian diaspora is our pride. Indians abroad have succeeded in different walks of life — some rising to high levels of political leadership, some contributing to science, arts, academics, civil society and business, each bringing laurels to their new homelands and to India,” Kapoor earlier quoted the Indian President Ram Nath Kovind as he read out the latter’s address to the nation on the eve of the Republic Day. The embassy also screened a pre-recorded video of various artists performing different dance forms of India.