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Saudi Arabia has repatriated nearly 2,000 Indian deportees during the coronavirus pandemic. Image Credit: SHUTTERSTOCK

Dubai: Saudi Arabia has repatriated 1,945 Indian deportees during the current period of temporary suspension of international flights following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) operated several flights to various destinations in India as part of a major joint initiative undertaken by Saudi and Indian authorities to repatriate the stranded deportees.

The deportees, mostly prisoners released from Saudi prisons, thanked Saudi and Indian authorities for the noble humanitarian gesture. They specially lauded the intensive efforts made by the Indian mission in the Kingdom, headed by Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Saeed, to facilitate their repatriation.

A Saudia flight, carrying 362 deportees on board, left Riyadh on Wednesday for New Delhi. This was the fifth flight of the second batch of deportees, who included 211 and 151 people from deportation centres of Riyadh and Jeddah respectively. With this, the total number of repatriated deportees has reached 1,945.

On October 6, Saudia operated two flights to New Delhi and Lucknow, carrying the second batch of deportees. The current process of repatriation of deportees in the pandemic period began in May, with sending 421 deportees back home, 214 from Riyadh and 207 from Jeddah.

The Indian mission officials are currently working on repatriating a limited number of the remaining deportees. They will be repatriated most likely in the coming week.

The mission appreciated cooperation extended by Saudi authorities, including Saudi Arabian Airlines, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), as well as the state governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.