Govt to evacuate over 32,000 Indians in 2nd phase of 'Vande Bharat Mission'
New Delhi, May 14: Over 32,000 stranded Indians will be brought back home from 31 countries under the second phase of the government's mega evacuation mission from May 16 to 22, official sources said on Thursday.
The government launched the 'Vande Bharat Mission' on May 7 to evacuate Indians stranded in various countries due to coronavirus-related restrictions. Under the phase one of the mission, the government has evacuated a total of 12,000 Indians from the Gulf region as well as countries like the US, the UK, Philipines, Bangladesh, Malaysia and the Maldives.
Sources said requests by OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) cardholders can be considered for repatriation after brining back Indian nationals wanting to return home. In the first phase, the government had planned to evacuate around 15,000 people from 12 countries in 64 flights.
"An additional 18 countries to be covered under the second phase, which include Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, Italy, France, Germany, Ireland, Canada, Japan, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Georgia, Tajikistan and Armenia," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.
"As you can see, we are broadening the ambit every week in a phased manner keeping with our quarantine capacity, health protocols, etc. Till now 1,88,646 Indian nationals have registered to return on the portal," he added.
As per the government's policy for evacuation, Indians having "compelling reasons" to return like pregnant women, elderly people, students and those facing the prospect of deportation are being brought back home.
"The Vande Bharat Mission is the largest and most complex exercise ever undertaken by the government for the repatriation of our nationals stranded overseas," Srivastava said. He said a total of 904 Indians were repatriated from the Maldives by Indian Navy ships Jalashwa and Magar on May 10 and May 12 respectively.