India and Philippines begin evacuating citizens

TWO foreign embassies in Bahrain have started evacuating their nationals as part of Covid-19 repatriation efforts.

The first flight carrying 182 Indians departed from Bahrain yesterday and was arranged by the Indian government.

The Air India Express flight – which was the first flight since the Covid-19 restrictions were imposed in March – reached Cochin, Kerala last night, said Indian Embassy charge d’affaires Norbu Negi.

“The first evacuation flight from Bahrain to Cochin departed with 182 passengers including five infants,” said Mr Negi in a video message.

“The passengers included elderly, pregnant women, those with medical issues and persons whose visas had expired.”

Mr Negi thanked the Bahrain government and ministries concerned for their support in the evacuation plan.

Another Air India Express flight will fly from Thiruvananthapuram to Bahrain on Monday. “Only Bahraini nationals and permanent residents can travel,” said the airline advisory.

The GDN reported that more than 16,000 Indians living in Bahrain have registered to return home amidst the pandemic.

The Indian government said that Air India will operate 64 flights until Wednesday to bring back around 15,000 Indian nationals stranded abroad.

Three Indian Navy warships were also being readied to possibly repatriate Indians from across the globe.

The Indian Defence Ministry stated last night that citizens returning from Gulf and other countries will be housed in different dedicated quarantine facilities maintained by the three services – the army, navy and air force. Those returning from Bahrain will be housed at the facility in Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh.

Meanwhile, a total of 198 Filipinos were repatriated with the help of the Philippines Embassy in Manama.

The embassy said in a statement yesterday that among those returning were 24 Filipinos from the Cayman Island and one from Turks and Caicos Islands, who all transited through Bahrain International Airport from London.

They returned with other Bahrain residents to the Philippines on board the Gulf Air flight last Sunday.

Philippines Ambassador Alfonso Ver led the repatriation effort and facilitated the approval for the flight with both the Philippines authorities and Gulf Air.

The statement added it was the only commercial flight allowed to land at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport during the one-week moratorium on inbound commercial flights put in place by the Philippines government until tomorrow.




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