Abu Dhabi: Stranded pregnant women from the UAE’s Indian community have appealed to the Indian government to increase the number of repatriation flights.
It comes as their husbands have lost jobs leaving them unable to survive on minimal resources.
“My wife, Mobeena, is eight-month pregnant, I want to send her and two children back home,” said Musthafa Puthiya.
“I approached some hospitals for her delivery, but they quote Dh6,000.00 to Dh11,000 for normal delivery charges. We have no insurance covering the delivery and hospital expenses.
In case of caesarian it would cost over Dh20,000,” he added.
“I have an outlet for office supplies of stationery in Dubai but business is almost nothing,” said Puthiya, who wants to return to Calicut, Kerala.
Another Indian woman, Krishna, is 32 weeks pregnant and was working with a company in Dubai but the company shut down and she lost her job last month.
Krishna said, “Even my husband’s salaries were cut 50 per cent, which made things more difficult to manage. The medical expenses and house rents are a big burden on us in the absence of a job and heavy salary cuts.
“My residency visa will be cancelled any time since the company is closed. That’s why I want to go back,” she said. Now she is impatiently waiting for a call from the embassy.
Krishna also appealed to the Indian government to increase the number of repatriation flights.
“There are so many people who want to fly back home because of job loss, pregnancy and health ailments,” she said. “Flights are limited and the number of returnees is huge.”
If regular commercial passenger flights return to even limited destinations, it would be a great help, she added.
Sakeena, 21, is three months pregnant. Her husband, Shafeer C. works in a cafeteria in Abu Dhabi, but hasn’t worked or received a salary in two months.
“Now we get meals from the Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC) but we have to pay rents amounting Dh1,800 with no money to pay it,” said Shafeer, who was earning Dh1,800 a month.
His wife came on a three-month visit visa. “Now she is in urgent need of medical attention but I can’t afford to consult a doctor due to my low salary,” said Shafeer, who now wants to send his wife and child home.
Meanwhile, cardiac patient, Khalid Nayakkarillathu, 47, said, “Due to my medical condition, I decided to return home so I resigned from the company in March and my residency visa also got cancelled on April 30.”
“I feeling unfit to carry out my duties routinely due health complications so I decided to go back but after canceling my visa, flight operations stopped and I got stuck here,” he said.
“I humbly appeal to my government to increase the number of flights so that the stranded Indians can reach home,” he added.
Indian social worker, Muneer Mohiyadeen, said, “We are receiving everyday hundreds of calls for repatriation, many people are in the waiting list and they are heavily depressed.
“The Government of India has been doing a great service, but it should further consider the distress of stranded people and facilitate more daily international flights for repatriation from the UAE,” he added.
Need for more flights
Most requests for repatriation are from low income groups, pregnant women, workers and visitors, says Yogish Prabhu, honourary president of the India Social and Cultural Centre in Abu Dhabi.
"We request the Government of India to increase the number of flights in the days to come,” he said. “Also we request to ease the cost of repatriation to the distressed people," he said.
"The UAE is one of the countries with the highest number of requests for repatriation. In the UAE total number of registered requests for the repatriation is around 200,000 including 600 pregnant women."
The majority of requests are from workers who lost their jobs, he added, also there are a number of visitors, mainly senior citizens and job seekers who need to return because their visa and insurance has expired.
Prabhu said the number of flights so far have only repatriated a small amount and did not cover all sectors. “Though the efforts being exerted are appreciated, there is a need for more flights,” he added.