Friday, July 02, 2021

Gulf expats stuck in state: Kerala seeks Central govt’s intervention

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government has written to the Centre seeking its intervention in finding a solution to the problems faced by Indian expatriates who want to travel back to the Gulf countries. In a letter to Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Chief Secretary V P Joy urged the Union government to hold discussions with Gulf countries to facilitate the return of expatriates to their workplaces. The chief secretary pointed out that GCC countries, except Bahrain and Qatar, have denied entry to Indian expatriates. 

As a result, NRIs have flocked to Bahrain and Qatar by entering these countries through Nepal or Sri Lanka. Besides, Saudi Arabia insists on a two-week quarantine on entry into the country. Since Covaxin is not approved by the World Health Organisation, GCC countries have denied entry to expatriates who have been administered the vaccine. 

Many expatriates had taken the first dose of Pfizer and Sinopharm vaccines from Gulf countries. Since these vaccines are not available in India, they are unable to take the second dose, the chief secretary pointed out. It is estimated that about 15 lakh NRIs have returned from GCC countries since the outbreak of Covid. While many would want to return to the Gulf countries, the stringent norms for those travelling from India have put a question mark on their journey. Last week, the UAE extended suspension of flights from India till July 21. 

The UAE civil aviation authority issued an order on Saturday extending the suspension of national and international flights from India and 13 other countries, including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Liberia, and South Africa till July 21.Flight services from India were expected to resume on June 23 after Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management announced that residence visa holders from India who have received two doses of a UAE-approved vaccine would be allowed to return.

02/07/21 New Indian Express

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