Sunday, June 28, 2020

UAE-bound Indians fight back tears, with no flights in sight

Mumbai: Kusum Khemani was stranded in India for over a month, when in May, her husband, back home in Dubai, fell ill with pneumonia. Their three daughters, the eldest in her twenties, admitted him to a hospital even as Khemani tried in vain to fly back. He was on ventilator, when he died on May 24, leaving his daughters to handle their father's death and funeral arrangements by themselves. "I've never felt so helpless in my life. I couldn't see my husband for the last time. I couldn't be with my daughters to console them," says Khemani, one of the thousands who continue to be stranded in India for the last three months.
They have no options to fly back to the UAE as the government there does not allow Indian passengers on repatriation flights from India unless they hold a valid UAE residency permit or work permit or have specific approval from the UAE embassy in Delhi and the UAE ministry of foreign affairs. They also must fulfil an earlier criterion of getting approvals from two other UAE authorities (ICA and GDRFA) to board Air India repatriation flights from India to the UAE.

"These special permissions from the embassy are not within the reach of the majority stranded here. Most of us have got ICA and GDRFA permits, which is not enough to fly back to the UAE from India," said Kavita Kaur (name changed). For those stranded in some countries, including the US, UK, and Pakistan, the ICA and GDRFA permits are enough to fly back to the UAE as these countries have either opened their skies to permit foreign airline flights or have allowed UAE carriers to operate repatriation flights. "We have been sending hundreds of requests to the ministry of civil aviation daily on Twitter and other platforms," she said.
28/06/20 Manju V/Times of India
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