Coronavirus: More than 60,000 Pakistanis await repatriation

'Everyone's turn will come,' says Pakistan's Consul-General

Pakistani Consul-General Ahmed Ali. Twitter. 
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The Consul-General of Pakistan has asked citizens to remain patient as officials continue to arrange repatriation flights.

About 60,000 Pakistanis have applied to be sent home from the UAE, most of whom have been laid off or furloughed following the outbreak of coronavirus.

On Sunday, Consul-General Ahmed Ali released a two minute video in Urdu on Twitter in response to the high demand.

“We understand everyone’s difficulty, especially during this month of Ramadan,” he said.

“We have started the process of flights and we are requesting people to be patient. We have already sent back 2,500 people on Pakistan International Airlines flights.

"Emirates Airlines are also sending people back. Everyone’s turn will come.”

Mr Ali said those without a salary or in medical need would have priority.

“People who have been laid off, are on unpaid or paid leave or on expired visas are on the priority list," he said.

"There are also death cases, pregnant women, emergency cases and students.”

Those wishing to return home will be issued with tickets from the PIA after registering with the Embassy or Consulate and receiving approval. Tickets cannot be obtained directly from the consulate.

“The consulate will call you and you will be asked to go to a designated PIA desk where tickets are being issued,” said Mr Ali.

“Also, there are rumours that some agents are issuing standby tickets, which is wrong.

"There are also people saying people are selling black tickets. If anyone is charging you wrongly, please report to the consulate or the police.”

Pakistan scheduled 14 flights from the UAE between April 20 and April 28, according to details released by the country's ministry of foreign affairs.

Last month, hundreds of people gathered outside the Pakistan embassy in Abu Dhabi and consulate in Dubai to register for repatriation.

Some chanted slogans against the Pakistani government, which halted all flights to the country on March 21.

Arbab Shah Shakirullah, 40, said he and his three brothers had been stranded in Dubai without work since March.

“We registered with the consulate and didn’t get any calls,” said Mr Shakirullah, a UAE resident since 2002.

“Our parents are at home and sick. We need two of us at least to go home to take care of them.”

Mr Shakirullah, a tour guide, has been furloughed until the autumn.

His brothers worked as drivers and they all share a flat in Deira, along with six others.

He said he now worried most about supporting his wife and five children at home, to whom he usually remits Dh3,000 a month.

“Actually, life is hard,” he said. “It is different than what we had before. We received some support from our company but also we have to take care of our families back home.

“The landlord is coming every week [asking for rent] and we’re telling him to wait and wait and that’s it."