Coronavirus: thousands of Indians to be repatriated from UAE in July

The fourth phase of the Vande Bharat Mission will begin on July 3

Indian nationals queue to check in at the Dubai International Airport. A massive exercise has been launched by the Indian government to bring home hundreds of thousands of Indians amid the coronavirus pandemic. AFP 
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Indian nationals who are stranded in Gulf countries should expect more repatriation flights in the first week of July.

The fourth phase of the Vande Bharat Mission, or Salute India Mission, will begin on July 3 to bring Indians seeking to return home.

The focus of the mission will be on repatriating citizens from the Gulf nations, said the Indian government.

More than 450,000 Indians registered with the consulate in Dubai and embassy in Abu Dhabi look forward to returning to their families in India.

"We are committed to bringing back our remaining compatriots, particularly in the GCC countries, Malaysia, Singapore, among other places," said Anurag Srivastava, spokesman of India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

"In order to continue with our efforts, phase four of Vande Bharat Mission has been firmed up with effect from July 3.

"This phase will particularly focus on countries where we still have a large number of Indians who have registered to return," he said.

The Vande Bharat Mission, which is in its seventh week, has brought back 364,209 Indians from over 50 countries.

The Indian government’s mission to repatriate citizens who have lost jobs abroad began in May.

"Demand for these flights remains very high, especially in the Gulf region and, therefore, we are moving to further streamline the process," Mr Srivastava said.

Indians in the emirates appealed for more flights from the UAE, which is home to the world’s largest non-resident Indian population of more than 3.4 million.

Only 25 flights from Dubai and Abu Dhabi on government carriers Air India Express and Air India were announced during the third Vande Bharat repatriation phase.

Between May 7 and early June, about 21,000 Indians were flown home.

Last week, UAE residents who were stranded in India were told to expect flights to the emirates in the coming weeks.