Coronavirus: Bahrain tells Qatar to stop meddling in repatriating process

Doha’s interference will harm citizens, says former foreign minister

People are seen at shops, following the outbreak of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Isa Town south of Manama, Bahrain, March 23, 2020. Picture taken March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed
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Bahrain told Qatar on Sunday to stop interfering in its repatriation process to bring its stranded citizens back home, as the coronavirus continues to spread across the region.

Doha said it flew 31 Bahrainis stranded in Iran into the country on a state-run Qatar Airways flight on Saturday.

Bahrain said it had its own repatriation flights scheduled for those stuck in Iran, and that Tehran’s move to place its citizens on a commercial flight put them at risk and exposes others to getting the disease.

“Bahrain had arranged special flights directly from Mashhad airport to Bahrain airport to in adherence to health and safety precautions,” King Hamad’s adviser and former foreign minister, Sheikh Khalid Al Khalifa, said on Twitter.

GCC members Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, along with Egypt, cut ties with Qatar in June 2017, accusing it of supporting extremists and meddling in the affairs of other states.

They also want Qatar to cut its close links to Iran, which has interfered in Arab countries’ affairs and is accused of being behind terrorist plots.

There are no travel links between Bahrain and Qatar.

“Qatar must stop using a humanitarian issue as part of its plans and ongoing conspiracies against countries and its citizens,” Sheikh Khaled said.

“What Qatar has done is reprehensible and requires a clear international response."

Bahrain advised authorities in Qatar to “follow the precautionary rules and measures to protect passengers and aircraft staff in line with the International Air Transport Association systems,” Bahrain’s national communications centre said.