India will launch on 16 May the second phase of ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ to bring back its nationals stranded abroad in the wake of coronavirus outbreak, the government announced today.
During the week-long exercise, 149 flights, including feeder flights, would be deployed to bring back Indians from 31 countries, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said. Nearly 20 more countries covered under the second phase include: Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, Italy, France, Germany, Ireland, Canada, Japan, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Krgyzstan, Belarus, Georgia, Tajikistan and Armenia. ”We are broadening the ambit of the exercise every week in a phased manner in keeping with our quarantine capacity, health protocols, etc. Till now 188,646 Indian nationals have registered on the portal to return”, he added.
Talking about the first phase of the ”Vande Bharat Mission” launched on 7 May, the spokesperson said that as of now, 56 flights have brought back Indian nationals from 12 countries. In addition, 904 Indians were repatriated from the Maldives by INS Jalashwa and INS Magar on 10 May and 12 May respectively. Some others have arrived through deportation flights from various countries. In the last few days, more than 12000 Indian nationals have safely returned home.
He noted that the ”Vande Bharat Mission” was the largest and most complex exercise ever undertaken by the government for the repatriation of Indian nationals stranded overseas. ”We are working very closely with the Ministries of Civil Aviation, Home Affairs, Health and Family Welfare as well as concerned state governments in this exercise.”
The spokesperson said that as part of ”Mission SAGAR’’, the government has sent Indian Naval ship Kesari to the Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros and Seychelles. This ship has been sent in response to the request for assistance from these countries. It carried on board two medical assistance teams, consignment of COVID-19 related essential medicines and essential food items. This exercise inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of SAGAR: security and growth for all in the region. This was also in keeping with India’s role as a first responder in the region.