Dubai: The UAE has offered to fly stranded Indians and citizens of other countries, who wish to be repatriated, if they test negative for COVID-19, the UAE’s Ambassador to India Dr Ahmed Abdul Rahman Al Banna told Gulf News on Saturday.
Speaking over phone, the envoy said the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC) had sent out a “note verbale” in this regard to the embassies of all the countries in the UAE during the past couple of weeks.
“We have sent the note verbale and all the embassies have been informed including the Indian embassy in the UAE and even the Ministry of External Affairs in India,” Al Banna said.
According to him, the UAE has offered to test those who want to be evacuated.
“We are assuring everybody that we have the best of the facilities, the best of the testing centres and we have tested more than 500,000 people.”
“We are assuring them also of our cooperation to fly those who got stranded in the UAE for some reasons. Some got stuck because of the lockdown and closure of airports in India. Some were visiting the UAE.”
“We are offering our system and making sure that they are good [to fly] by doing all the tests and transport them according to the request of their own government.”
The envoy said those who test positive for COVID-19 will remain in the UAE.
“They will be treated in our home facilities.”
He said the UAE has not received any official response from India so far.
“I have seen the minister’s comments in the media. But nothing has come officially to us until now,” he said, referring to the remarks made by India’s Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan.
As reported by Gulf News on Friday, addressing concerns of stranded Indians across the world, Muraleedharan stated that their repatriation can be considered only from May. Chartered flights by those who can afford it will also be considered only then.
Denying the possibility of a mass repatriation of overseas Indians, the minister said the government can only allow repatriation of stranded Indians on priority basis since arranging quarantining facilities for tens of thousands of Indians returning home is not practically possible.
Elderly citizens, pregnant women and those requiring treatment back home will be given priority, he said.
The Ministry of External Affairs intends to request the Civil Aviation Ministry to take the necessary steps for the repatriation services, he said.
Muraleedharan urged overseas Indians to stay put wherever they are and follow the directives of the local governments for their own safety.
He urged Indians from Gulf countries not to worry about visa expiries as the local governments have already relaxed visa rules and announced exemption of fines.
He added that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had talked to the leaders in the Gulf countries who assured him of the safety of Indian citizens in their countries.