Govt trying to bring stranded Indians from EU: MEA

Govt working out logistics with airlines to bring Indians stranded in European Union nations: MEA official

The government is working out the logistics with various airlines to bring back Indians stranded in European countries in transit due to the travel restrictions imposed by India in response to the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic, a senior MEA official said on Friday.

Amid restrictions on the entry of passengers from various countries, the Ministry of External Affairs on Thursday urged Indians stranded in various parts of the world to "stay put" and said Indian missions are trying their best to provide them support.

"The MEA is working out the logistics with airline companies to bring back stranded Indians from EU countries such as London, Malaysia and Netherlands on flights back to India. The airlines did not let them fly on board for the fear of penalty," Additional Secretary in MEA, Dammu Ravi, said.

He also clarified that no Indian diplomats and embassy officials or staff have been infected with COVID-19 as per the government's knowledge even in the worst affected cities like Wuhan and Italy.

Ravi, additional secretary MEA in charge of coordinating the efforts to counter COVID-19, had said it is not advisable for people to move from one region to another region in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

"Our missions, our ambassadors are at the forefront to support these stranded Indians. They are reaching out to them and addressing their concerns. To the extent possible, we are doing our best," he said.

Sources said the government is requesting other countries to extend the visas for Indians who are stranded in those nations, in the same manner India has facilitated visa-extensions for foreign nationals.

The MEA advice to stay put came just before the Centre issued a statement that no international flights would be allowed to land in India from March 22 onwards for a period of one week.

The government, which on Monday banned the entry of passengers from the EU countries, Turkey and the UK from March 18 till March 31, also closed its doors to those from Afghanistan, the Philippines and Malaysia with immediate effect, according to an additional travel advisory.

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