COVID-19: Over 24,000 stranded Pakistanis repatriated through special flights
ISLAMABAD – Amid the coronavirus crisis, a whooping number of nationals still remain stuck on foreign shores due to closure of international regular flight operations across the world. But, the silver lining is that the government of Pakistan rose to the challenge and took lead in starting relief flight operations for evacuation of its citizens from multiple countries.
"As of May 13, at least 24,500 stranded Pakistanis have been repatriated from various countries under the special repatriation operation, announced by the government after halting the international flights in March end to curb the coronavirus spread in the country," a senior officer of the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development told APP on Thursday.
He said the repatriation of stranded Pakistanis was being carried out in phases. Laid off Pakistani workers, students and people with expired visas were given top priority during the repatriation process, he added.
Giving breakup, the officer said most of the repatriated citizens were from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries as it always remained a top destination for Pakistani workers. Till May 13, over 9,100 nationals were brought to Pakistan from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), 1300 from Qatar, 1,000 from Saudi Arabia, 600 Oman, 227 Bahrain and 150 from Iraq.
He said the government had also made arrangements for airlifting the Pakistanis from other countries like the United Kingdom from where it brought back some 3,000 nationals.
The officer said initially, the country's bandwidth for airlifting the stranded nationals from across the globe was 2,000 per week which was later increased to over 6,000 per week to boost the repatriation process, he added.
At least 49 flights would be operating between May 11 and May 21 to bring back 11,660 overseas Pakistanis from across the globe, the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis tweeted, announcing the addition of more flights in the already issued flight schedule.
According to the ministry, 2,560 Pakistanis would return home from the UAE through 10 special flights. During the said period, seven flights would airlift 1,750 Pakistanis from Qatar, whereas six flights were arranged for the stranded nationals in Saudi Arabia.
Similarly, a large number of Pakistanis would be evacuated from China, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Oman under the special repatriation operation.
It may be mentioned here that the efforts of government of Pakistan with regard to the repatriation of its national are being hailed at national and International level. Recently, the UAE had praised the government and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari for extending cooperation during the repatriation process.
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