India is looking at the possibility of bringing back its nationals from 47 countries on 162 flights under the ongoing second phase of the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’, a government spokesperson has announced.

The second phase, which began on 16 May, would go on till 13 June. ”In this phase, we are including places like Istanbul, Ho Chi Minh city, Lagos, etc and increasing flights to the US and Europe. We are also looking at developing Frankfurt as a hub,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava told the media.

He said India was also receiving its nationals who were stranded abroad onboard flights from other countries which were coming in to evacuate nationals of those nations. India was also bringing back its nationals from far flung countries like Argentina, South Africa, Peru and Mongolia. As of Thursday afternoon, 23475 Indian nationals have safely returned home under the mission.

The spokesperson said there were 259001 people registered to return from 98 countries. Most of those who have registered to return were workers (28 per cent), students (25 per cent), professionals (14.5 per cent) and short-term visa holders like tourists (7.6 per cent). There were others too like fishermen, deportees and those granted amnesty.

”We are also facilitating the travel of our nationals as well as foreign nationals on outbound flights under the mission,” he added.

Operations under this very large and complex exercise were going on smoothly.

He said the External Affairs Ministry was working in close coordination with the ministries of Civil Aviation, Home Affairs, and Health and Family Welfare, Bureau of Immigration as well as state governments to ensure the success of the mission.