Newsnow Desk: India on Thursday launched a massive repatriation operation for distressed citizens with two flights that carried 363 people from the UAE while Pakistan completed phase-4 of its mission by airlifting more than 7,000 people from the country. Pakistan International Airlines repatriated 550 people to Faisalabad and Lahore and Indian expats left on board Air India Express aircraft on Thursday.
Khaleejtimes reports that, It was an emotional return for many who were stranded, the sick, the elderly, the unemployed and others who had lost their loved ones back home. Some said they would be back in the UAE when the crisis is over, while others said they would have to start their lives from scratch in their home countries after years in the UAE. Some broke down, while the sick, aged and pregnant women had to be assisted to complete health tests and other check-in procedures.
Farewell was bittersweet and the mood was grim but many boarded the flights in the hope of new beginnings and were stoic despite the challenges that would come their way on their long journey to normality back home.
Ajith Pullanikottil was grieving for his late mother who lost her battle with cancer. “I have been trying to go so that I could be by my mother’s side. Unfortunately, she breathed her last without me next to her. I am still so happy that I can be home,” said the Indian expat.
Shahid Mughal, PIA regional manager, told Khaleej Times: “We will repatriate another 1,000 stranded Pakistani citizens by Sunday. PIA has operated 15 special flights from the UAE so far to repatriate more than 5,000 stranded Pakistani citizens,” Mughal said. Another 2,000 Pakistani expats were flown by UAE carriers Emirates, flydubai and Air Arabia.
Over 200,000 Indian expats have registered on their missions’ website while 63,000 Pakistani expatriates have registered to go home.
The Indian repatriation, billed the largest civilian operation in the world, will continue for two weeks.