Govt to operate more flights for 5,000 Pakistanis stranded in Saudi Arabia

By: INP      Published: 12:12 AM, 11 Jun, 2020
Govt to operate more flights for 5,000 Pakistanis stranded in Saudi Arabia
Pakistani workers in Gulf countries are hit hard by the pandemic.–File photo

The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development (OP&HRD) has said the government has so far brought back more than 61,000 Pakistanis stranded in 50 countries, but thousands are still stuck up abroad amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to a document shared by the OP&HRD on Wednesday, at least 61,165 Pakistanis were brought home by air and land routes until June 8.

The document says the government would airlift over 10,500 stranded Pakistanis from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this week (until June 15) by operating 46 special flights under the world’s largest repatriation operation. More than 20 flights would be operated to bring back 5,000 Pakistanis stranded in Saudi Arabia.

According to the document, the repatriation operation would continue in phases. “Laid off Pakistani workers, students and people with expired visas are given top priority during the repatriation process,” a ministry official said. He said around 2,500 stranded citizens would be evacuated from Qatar via 10 special flights, to be operated until June 15. To a query, he said all the passengers were being tested for coronavirus at the country’s airports.

Out of this total, 56,836 were brought to the country through special flights, whereas repatriation of 4,329 Pakistanis was done through land routes from India, Afghanistan and Iran.

The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries remained the main focus for the government where a whooping number of Pakistanis is still stuck up due to a limited number of flights operated by Pakistan. Some 23,889 were evacuated from the United Arab Emirates, followed by Saudi Arabia from where some 7,428 citizens were brought back to the country.

Similarly, 4,156 were repatriated form Qatar, 4,301 form the United Kingdom, 2,987 from Afghanistan (via land route), 2,956 from Oman, 1,159 from Malaysia, 1,349 from the United States of America, 924 from Iran (via land route) and 418 from India (via land route).

Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Canada, China, Congo, Egypt, Germany, Iraq, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Maldives, Norway, South Africa, Somalia Sri Lanka, Sudan Turkey, Thailand, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan were among the countries from where a number of stranded nationals were airlifted by the government.

Of those brought back from various countries, Tableeghis count for 2,018, prisoners/detainees 1,712 and pilgrims 1,326. The process of bringing people back would continue until return of all stranded citizens, the official said, pointing out the gradual increase in repatriation flights.