Sunday, February 28, 2021

No flights, Keralites stuck in Israel sans money, jobs

Kochi: At least about 250 Indians, most of them women from Kerala, are stuck in Israel after the country suspended international flights from January 25 to slow the spread of Covid-19. Many women, who were working as caregivers in Israel, are stuck after their job contracts expired in January. Some others want to return for medical purposes.

Though they have sought the help of the Indian Embassy in Tel Aviv, they were told to take a flight to Frankfurt, and from there to Abu Dhabi/Dubai, which is highly expensive and time-consuming as there is a huge queue for getting the transit visa too, said Bessy Siby, a native of Changanassery, whose job contract in Israel ended on January 15.

“After I lost the job, I have been trying to return to India. But with the consecutive operational freezing of Israeli airport the returning is impossible,” she told TNIE over the phone. Bessy has been in Israel since 2011. “Using the Frankfurt route alone will cost over Rs 1.5 lakh. Then there is an additional cost for taking the transit visa, etc,” she said.

In a letter to the Indian Embassy, she said many are finding it difficult to survive in Israel without proper income and urged the Indian government to take proper action for their return to India as soon as possible. 

The Israeli government, which initially closed the inbound and outbound flights by foreign airlines till January 31, later extended the ban to February 21, and further to March 6.

“We learn that the ban is likely to be extended till the Passover, which means till April,” said another Keralite, who is stuck there. Vinod Kumar Sharma, Attache (consular), Indian Embassy, Tel Aviv, in response to the letter by the Indians stuck in that country, pointed out that there were no regular commercial flights in the New Delhi-Tel Aviv sector, but only VBM flights, which are one-off or ad-hoc flights arranged by the Indian government and mostly operated by Air India or Air India Express. 

28/02/21 New Indian Express

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