Over 1.07 lakh stranded Indians have returned to the country from abroad since the government launched the 'Vande Bharat' evacuation mission on May 7, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday. It said the government has started preparation for the third phase of the mission after completion of the second phase of the evacuation on June 13.
"Around 38,000 persons are expected to be repatriated under this phase in 337 international flights from 31 countries," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said. In the first phase of the mission from May 7 to 15, the government evacuated around 15,000 people from 12 countries. The second phase of the evacuation mission was scheduled from May 17 to 22. However, the government has extended it till June 13.
Air India has operated 103 flights under the second phase to bring back stranded Indian nationals from abroad, Srivastava said, adding the Indian Navy has also made sorties to bring back Indians from Sri Lanka and the Maldives. "After the commencement of the Vande Bharat mission on May 7, a total of 454 flights, including foreign carriers, have brought back stranded Indians. As of date, 1,07,123 Indians have returned," he said.
Those who have returned to India included 17,485 migrant workers, 11,511 students and 8,633 professionals. He said over 32,000 Indians have returned through land border checkpoints from Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
A total of 3,48,565 people registered requests with Indian missions for repatriation to India on compelling grounds. As per the government's policy for evacuation, Indians having "compelling reasons" to return like pregnant women, elderly people, students and those facing the prospect of deportation are being brought back home.
The MEA spokesperson said the third phase will cover more sectors and will create additional hubs in remote regions.