A special repatriation flight of Air Arabia chartered by Joy Alukkas for the jewellery group’s employees and their family members flew  home 143 adults, 25 children and 6 infants from Sharjah to Kochi in Kerala after they cleared rapid tests for COVID-19 on Monday night. A top official on Wednesday clarified that Kerala’s new rule mandating COVID-19 test for all passengers getting repatriated to the state from abroad would not impact those from the UAE as they already undergo rapid antibody tests.
Passengers queue for repatriation flights in Dubai. Picture for illustrative purposes. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The UAE will issue a no-objection letter for the return of residents stuck in India, on humanitarian grounds that meet all stipulated conditions and requirements, the UAE Embassy in New Delhi announced on Tuesday.

In a series of tweets, the mission gave an update for thousands of Indian residents who have been stuck back home during the COVID-19 pandemic and are waiting to return to their families and workplaces in the UAE.

The embassy said valid UAE residence permit holders currently present in India must obtain necessary approval from the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship by observing all the conditions set by the authorities.

“The @UAEembassyIndia would like to draw the attention of valid UAE residence permit holders currently present in India, to the necessity of obtaining necessary approval from the @ICAUAE while ensuring that all conditions set by the UAE competent authorities are observed,” the mission said in its first tweet.

It added: “Please note that UAE will issue no-objection letter to travel in some humanitarian cases only that meet all conditions and requirements.”

The embassy also affirmed its commitment to the decisions of the Indian authorities regarding the continued closure of airports in India [for regular international travel] and implementation of some restrictions that do not allow foreign airlines to carry passengers.

“We express our thank for your cooperation and your understanding of the current global situation, and in case there is any development in this regard, we will publish it on the official platforms of embassy,” it added.

Gulf News is in the process of reaching out to the authorities to get further clarification on the procedures for obtaining the no-objection letters on humanitarian grounds.

The tweets from the mission come in the wake of reports emerging from India that said UAE residents stuck in India needed added layers of approvals from the UAE Embassy in New Delhi and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the UAE in order to be able to travel back to the UAE.

However, sources told Gulf News that such requirements were not valid for residents planning to fly back to the UAE.

The mission’s tweets reaffirm that there are no such conditions set for Indians wishing to return to the UAE.

When contacted, the UAE Ambassador to India, Dr Ahmad Abdul Rahman Al Banna, said the tweets were self-explanatory and he had no further comments to add.

The Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor told Gulf News: “We are working closely with the UAE authorities to arrive at an arrangement to facilitate the return of the UAE residents from India.”

Stranded Indians seek clarity

Indians stranded back home sought clarity on the procedures to get the no-objection letters from the UAE to facilitate their return.

Many of them tweeted in reply to the embassy, explaining their plight and requesting clarification on how they could get the new approval mentioned by the embassy.

“Please state what are the conditions and requirements to get the approval and where [do] we have to submit them,” posted Yaseen Khan.

Another Indian, Rishi, tweeted: “Hi, what are the steps to get this letter, my wife is alone there now for 4 months. request you to kindly take necessary measures. let me travel. (sic)”

Some stranded residents also explained their concerns over job loss and not being able to pay rents and bills.

“Please allow us to Reach UAE, we are stranded here for 4 months and we have to pay our rents in Dubai, utility Bills and our Job security is diminishing slowly. Even though we have approvals but there are no flights. Please consider this is a humanitarian basis and allow us (sic),” posted.

Non-Indian’s appeal

Among those who appealed for help was Dr Ahsan Waziri, a non-Indian national. Hailing from Kabul in Afghanistan, Dr Waziri explained that he was an Al Ain resident who got stuck in Hyderabad after he went there on a business trip. Stating that he had an ICA [Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship] approval, he urged the mission to help him since his family, alone in the UAE, had been in trouble for three months.

An Indian woman with ICA approval tweeted: “Please clearly explain. I got my approval from Ica by jun14 th so 21 days validity means it would expire by July 5th..till July 15 India said no International flights.. So Shall I need to apply for new and wait again.. Please let me know (sic).”

With India extending the non-resumption of international flights till July 31 and not allowing foreign carriers to fly passengers in to India either, and with UAE barring Vande Bharat Mission repatriation flights from flying residents stuck in India to UAE, stranded residents are now pinning their hopes on special flights that will be operated with consensus from both the countries. Some have also opted to charter small business jets to fly back to the UAE.