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IAF C-17 ‘Globemaster’ takes off for Iran, New Delhi, 9 March 2020.
A C-17 'Globemaster' aircraft of the Indian Air Force has taken off from Hindan airbase for Tehran today, to airlift Indian citizens. IAF's medical team and support staff is onboard the aircraft for the humanitarian assistance mission. The aircraft will return with Indian citizens in the early hours of 10 Mar 20.
Indian Air Force has made all necessary operational and medical arrangements to ensure expeditious and safe return of our countrymen from Iran. Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB).
Suo-Moto Statement by External Affairs Minister on the Indians stranded in Iran due to COVID -19 situation, New Delhi, 12 March 2020.
Hon’ble Chairman Sir,
I rise to apprise this august House of some recent developments pertaining to Indians stranded in Iran as a result of the Coronavirus situation. The House is already aware of the efforts Government had made to bring back Indians from Wuhan in China by mounting three flights to that city. Thereafter, we brought back the crew and passengers of a cruise ship off Japan that was affected by Coronavirus. These evacuations also included some foreign nationals. Our focus since has shifted to Iran, in view of the sharp increase of Coronavirus in that country.
As per available information, there are over 6000 Indian nationals in various provinces of Iran. These include about 1100 pilgrims mainly from the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir and the State of Maharashtra; nearly 300 students primarily from the UT of Jammu and Kashmir; about 1000 fishermen, including from Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat; and others who are on longer term stay in Iran for pursuing their livelihood and religious studies.
As Government started receiving information about the spike in Coronavirus cases in Iran, as a precautionary measure, direct flights between India and Iran were temporarily suspended with effect from 27 February. Advisories were issued to avoid travel and returning passengers were started to be screened. This is an ongoing exercise.
Our Embassy in Tehran and Consulates in Bandar Abbas and Zahidan naturally reached out immediately to Indian nationals in Iran to ascertain their welfare. An advisory was issued asking our nationals to observe appropriate precautions. Emergency contact details of the Indian Mission were put out. Embassy and Consulate officials have been reassuring the Indian nationals and ensuring that they are in good health and had adequate provisions. I mention this as an overall approach but also with specific reference to the fishermen community whose welfare has been raised with me by a number of Hon’ble Members.
Given the large number of Indians in Iran, it was natural that we should seek to sequence their return, taking into account their location and exposure. The initial focus is on visiting pilgrims. Many of them are in Qom, where Coronavirus incidence has been strong. The nature of their residency also increases the risks of exposure. Age is also a factor that was taken into account. As their welfare is being currently addressed, we are now focusing on Indian students. Many of them are studying medicine and are fully aware of the precautions to be taken in this difficult situation. The Embassy is in regular contact with them as a group. Our understanding is that the region where most fishermen are located has not been affected so severely. These factors will guide our approach in the coming days.
Over the last few days, Government has been making focused efforts for the safe return of the stranded Indians. Given the scale of COVID -19 infection and its pressure on Iran’s own resources, a team of six Indian health officials has been deputed to Iran in order to set up testing and sampling facilities there. The first batch of 108 samples were received in India on 7 March. These were tested and 58 Indian pilgrims (25 men, 31 women and 2 children), who tested negative, were repatriated in special IAF C-17 flight on 10 March. We have also received samples of 529 more Indians on this flight which are being tested in National Institute of Virology, Pune. We continue to collect more samples in Tehran and our endeavour is to ensure the earliest possible return of our nationals after appropriate testing and screening. We are working with the Iranian authorities to operate some limited commercial flights for facilitating early return of the remaining Indians after testing them.
Our Embassy staff and the medical team are working round-the-clock under difficult conditions to ensure the objective of earliest possible return. The House will appreciate their operational constraints, given that there are restrictions that have been instituted for public health reasons in Iran. It is not easy to organize transport, accommodation and other logistics. The Iranian system is naturally stretched and we appreciate their cooperation in these circumstances.
During my recent visit to Srinagar, I took the initiative to meet parents of some of the students who are in Iran. Their anxiety at this time is completely understandable. I shared with them in detail the ground situation and sought their understanding. I assured them that Government would facilitate the earliest possible return of their children.
Our Consulate in Bandar Abbas are in touch with the Indian fishermen, who are in southern provinces of Iran, including in cities of Asaalouyeh, Chiruyeh and Kish. Some of them have been visited and others would be soon. Provision of essential supplies to them is being ensured. As per available information, they are all in good health.
I would like to strongly emphasize that Government remains fully committed towards the safety and welfare of our nationals in any part of the world. This has been the hallmark of our foreign policy.
The House will surely appreciate the few other Nations have done what we have with respect to the COVID -19. The global Coronavirus situation is being monitored on a continuous basis by a Group of Secretaries headed by Cabinet Secretary and a Group of Ministers, chaired by Minister of Health and Family Welfare. My Ministerial colleague has already apprised the House of measures being taken to control and contain the spread of virus in the country. Prime Minister himself has reviewed the situation from time to time. We have been regularly issuing travel advisories and visa guidelines that reflect the situation in countries of concern. E-visas and visa on arrival have been temporarily suspended in certain cases. Precautionary measures are also being taken on all our land borders as well as air and sea entry points.
The situation in Italy is now emerging as a cause of great concern. I would like to share with the Hon’ble Members that steps in this regard have already been initiated. The challenge is growing by the day in Europe and we will respond accordingly.
I am confident that Hon'ble Members of this House would join me in commending the efforts of our medical team, the officials of the Indian Embassy and Consulate, the Indian Air Force crew and all those in India who are working tirelessly and selflessly, to ensure that our people in Iran are safe, and can return expeditiously. The Coronavirus challenge will require a focused and sustained effort on our part and we will keep the House apprised of developments. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
EAM's replies in the Rajya Sabha on Indians Stranded in Iran due to COVID-19, New Delhi, 12 March 2020.
MR. DEPUTY CHAIRMAN: Mr. Minister, please.
THE MINISTER OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS (SHRI S. JAISHANKAR): Thank you, Sir. Through you, first of all, let me express my appreciation to all the hon. Members for their understanding support on what is a national, and in fact, an international challenge. Sir, I would very quickly respond to the points raised by various Members, beginning with the points raised by Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad. At the moment, 58 people have come back from Iran and since we have about 535 samples which came along with them, whoever tests negative would be put on the next slots of flights which come in. We have made efforts by increasing the number of medical personnel to test as many people as we can and as quickly as we can. Once we are through with the pilgrims, we would focus on the students because they are really in a very difficult position. Many Members have raised concerns about fishermen. The fishermen live in southern Iran and the Coronavirus incidence is not as strong in southern Iran as it is in cities like Qom and Tehran. But we are looking at the fishermen also. Our Consulate in Bandar Abbas is in touch with them. I am myself directly in touch with them as well. They pick up the phones and I am able to see what they are doing. I can assure all hon. members that we would ensure that they don't have a problem with food, drinks or any other material they want at the moment. But people should also understand that this is a very difficult time in Iran. The Iranian system itself is struggling. So, I think I would reiterate the message which Shri Derek O'Brien made, which is, please don't panic. Today, our strategy is this. There are about 90 countries where there is incidence of Coronavirus. We have to focus. We have to prioritize. We have to look at very extreme situations. At the moment, after China and the Diamond Princess, Iran is an extreme situation and Italy is an extreme situation. There are others like Germany, France and Spain where the cases have gone up. As of yesterday, we have suspended e-visas for those countries. So, our idea is to limit travel, but focus on those countries where the Coronavirus incidence is very strong. Mr. Vaiko raise issue of fishermen. I would like to assure him that I would personally ensure that they don't have problems of food and water.
Mr. Antony brought up the issue of people stranded in Italy. I think a number of other Members of Parliament also raised that issue. I would like to assure all hon. members that we are very, very cognizant of this problem. The issue arose because as the Coronavirus is so strong in Italy, we wanted people boarding a flight to have a Covid-free certificate. Now, it has been difficult for people to get that in the Italian system because the Italian system is busy treating patients in Italy. So, we are hoping, by tomorrow, to fly in a medical team to Italy, just as we have flown into Iran. We will do the testing of those people and try and put them on very early flights thereafter. I welcome the suggestion which Shri Derek O'Brien gave. I want to assure him that when I look at the House, everybody is my friend. But with regard to the isolation wards, cooperative effort is already under way and, I think, the Cabinet Secretary is coordinating with all the State Government to ensure that every State Government hospital has an isolation ward wherever that is feasible.
Shri Kareem raised an issue of students from Kerala who are stuck in Italy. I would like to again assure you that Iran and Italy are the two focal points today of our activities. I also want to tell Dr. Banda Prakash that students from Telangana are also very much on our radar. We are generally giving students a particular sort of priority because many of them are facing situation where the dormitories have been closed. So, they are having a much more difficult time than other people. We are very sensitive to that. Shri Tiruchi Siva raised the issue of fishermen again in Iran. Please be assured, they are very much on the radar. Regarding the check points which Shri Ravi Prakash Verma raised, I will take the details. Let me look at that because we are on our land borders, trying to channel all movement through check points which have thermal screening because that is the best effort we can make. But, in this particular case, I will take the details from you. Shri Jose Mani also raised the issue of Italy. I would like to inform him that actually the advisory that everybody from Italy should carry a Covid-free certificate was issued about a week ago. Now, it is possible that many students and young people may not have seen that advisory. I understand the problem. We are trying to solve the problem. But I do want to tell you that it was not a last-minute imposition by us; quite a lot of notices were given. Regarding the issue which Shri Sushil Kumar Gupta raised about airport management, I think the Group of Ministers will be looking at various measures. My colleague from the Civil Aviation is with me in that Group and we had a discussion on that today. The larger issue that when you have so many countries and so many problems, how you will evacuate and test everybody, was raised by Dr. Amar Patnaik. The answer to that is that it is not our intention; if we have a world-wide activity, we are only adding to the panic. I think it is important that we focus on very specific points. Even in China, we basically did it in Wuhan; we didn't do it in other places in China; they didn't require it. Similarly, in Italy, we are focusing on one or two places. In Iran also, it is mainly Qom and Tehran. So, it is a very focussed intervention; it is not a general intervention. I have noted the point which Shri Binoy Vismam made about the people in the Gulf. We will support them; we will make sure that all the Embassies are instructed that when these people go back, they don't have job difficulties. On the issue of mask I will pass on that issue to Shri Hardeep Singh Puri who is dealing with free mask issue, and the rest of it I will pass on to Dr. Harsh Vardhan. On the point which Shrimati Viplove Thakur raised about extending the quarantine, again I will pass on that point to the Group of Ministers. Regarding what Shri Gohel raised about fishermen, I want to assure him that there are no food issues right now. But, again, I will continually monitor that. Finally, I do want to tell Shrimati Vijila that we will ensure that even the fishermen from your State, who are there, their welfare will be personally supervised by us. Please be assured. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
EAM's replies in the Lok Sabha on Indians Stranded in Iran due to COVID-19 (March 12, 2020), New Delhi, 13 March 2020.
DR. SUBRAHMANYAM JAISHANKAR: Sir, let me briefly respond to the observations made by various hon. members.
Let me start with Shri T.R. Baalu’s question about fishermen in Iran and the arrangements which are made for them. At this moment, I want to assure you, we have no coronavirus cases among any of the fishermen but they have difficulty in getting food and other things. Our Consulate is in touch with them and will continue to be in touch with them. We are monitoring the situation and we are setting up a nodal centre to check their welfare and the welfare of the other people.
Shri Antony raised the issue of no screening at Kochi. That is not my understanding. My understanding is that there was screening instituted at all international airports. We have tightened it since then and I can assure you on behalf of the Group of Ministers that this is something which is very much on our agenda. Shri Premachandran again raised the issue of tests. He also referred to people who are stranded at airports. I want to assure you that we are today helping the people who are stranded at airports. We are preventing a sense of panic. I also want to clarify that India has not imposed a ban. India has said that if people from certain countries who are coming here, they have to go through quarantine – in certain cases compulsory quarantine and in some cases discretionary quarantine – and Indian citizens who are coming back will obviously come back to quarantine conditions if that is required.
Prof. Saugata Ray raised the issue again saying we are not issuing new visas. What we have done is this. We have kept in abeyance certain categories of visas for certain countries where there is prevalence of coronavirus. Ours is not the only country that has done that. There are a lot of other countries that have also done that. We were among the earliest to do it. He asked what was happening in Korea, France, Spain and Germany. We have not seen the kind of crisis situation that we have seen in Wuhan or we are seeing in Iran or we are seeing in Italy. So, we have to prioritise. We have to see where the problem is more severe and what kind of people are affected. For example, pilgrims are affected because they live in conditions where the spread of disease is very possible; students are affected because the dormitories are closed. We have to see where we should give the attention and where the resources should be given. I think, they would understand it. I would urge all the hon. Members to understand it as well.
Shri Hasnain Masoodi raised an issue about our response time in Iran. I would like to share, through you, with the hon. Members that there has been a very difficult situation in Iran because their own system is under severe pressure, hospitals are under pressure, and testing facilities are not available. We first tried to get everybody help in Iran. When we realised that this was not happening, we were required to send our medical team. We had to actually establish a clinic at Qom. We had to shift even that to Tehran and ask the people to go from Qom to Tehran because that was the compulsion on us there. So, there has been no lack of sensitivity to the situation of people but please understand that it is a very difficult situation in Iran and we are working on it. Fifty-eight people have come back. I expect, maybe, another more than 200 would come back soon and the numbers will keep increasing.
Shri Thomas Chazhikadan again raised the issue of airports, to which I have replied.
Shri Asaduddin Owaisi raised the issue of people who are stuck at Mashal. At the moment, we have one medical team operating at Tehran.
We are asking people to come to Tehran for testing. If there is a problem, we will find a way of reaching people in Mashhad. We will not leave them out there. I can give you that assurance.
Shri Hibi Eden ji raised an issue of virology testing centres. Dr. Harsh Vardhan ji is here. In due course, he will reply to that. Let me finish my list. We are setting up more laboratories for testing. The number of such laboratories has increased, but I would like my colleague to answer that question.
Shri Mehtab ji also asked the same question about the testing centres. He will answer that question.
The issue regarding tracking those who are coming in, is a very valid issue. I would like to assure the Members that there is a very very detailed tracking procedure. In fact, the Group of Ministers has seen every patient who was tested positive and has tracked hundreds of people who have been in contact with that patient. It is not that we are only quarantining. There is a very very detailed tracking procedure in place and it is because of that we have been able to keep it to the limit that we have.
Vasanthakumar ji raised an issue of fishermen who are in the island. I would like to assure him that we will make sure that they are looked after. We are regularly in touch with them. Therefore, the provisions will be made.
Bhagwant Mann ji raised the issue of 30 students of Punjab who got stuck at the Italy airport. I know that the hon. Member is concerned about students from his region. I would like to tell him that there are not 30 students but there are many more students from different parts of the country. For me, I need to find a way of helping or bringing all of them back. We are at it. Please understand, we can only bring them back if they are tested. They have to be tested and to test them, we have started the sampling today. We cannot bring back untested people in very severe epidemic situation because I have the security of this country to worry about as well.
Kanomozhi ji asked about setting up a helpline and where will we quarantine. We will be setting up a helpline. We have identified a large number of possible quarantine centres. Till now, most of the quarantine is taking place in Manesar and close by, but if the quarantine numbers mount, we have already initiated an exercise in cooperation with different Ministries and State Governments. We have a much bigger contingency plan for quarantining. I think, Dr. Harsh Vardhan ji would be in a better position to reply to it.
Finally, with regard to Adhir Ranjanji’s issue about Saudi Arabia, I would like to say that we are very very sensitive to what is happening, particularly with our people who are working in very difficult conditions in the Gulf. So far, in the Gulf the cases have been very limited but we are very much on the alert because we totally share Member’s concern that if the situation becomes worse there, they will have to be a priority area. So, it is very much on our radar. I would request my colleague to reply on other issues. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Statement by EAM in the Lok Sabha on Indians Stranded in Iran due to COVID-19 (March 12, 2020), New Delhi, 13 March 2020.
DR. SUBRAHMANYAM JAISHANKAR: Sir, I rise to apprise this august House of some recent developments pertaining to Indians stranded in Iran as a result of the Corona virus situation. …(Interruptions) Before I come to the Iran situation, kindly allow me to describe the larger global landscape with respect to Corona virus and our approach in responding to this challenge.
As all hon. Members are aware, the global spread of Corona virus is now real and serious. Yesterday, the WHO declared it as a pandemic. As a country whose citizens are spread across the world, this is a matter of utmost concern. At the same time, it is absolutely essential that we react responsibly and soberly. What we say and what we do should address problems, not spread panic. It is natural that there would be situations of different degrees of gravity in different parts of the world. As a Government, we will assess these in terms of their urgency and seriousness, and respond accordingly.
As the House would have noted, where specific interventions are required as in the case of Wuhan in China, the Diamond Princess crew in Japan or now the pilgrims in Iran we will take necessary action. But these are exceptional situations that require exceptional response. At this time, travel in itself is not recommended as it only heightens risks. Where communities are understandably anxious, we should reassure them and encourage the observance of globally recognized precautions and procedures. An excessive sense of alarm would only be to the detriment of those who are really in need.
Let me now turn to the issue of Iran. As per available information, there are above 6,000 Indian nationals in various provinces of Iran. These include 1,100 pilgrims mainly from the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, and the State of Maharashtra; nearly 300 students primarily from the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir; about 1,000 fishermen from the States of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Gujarat; and others who are on longer-term stay visas in Iran for pursuing their livelihood and religious studies.
As the Government started receiving information about the spike in Corona virus cases in Iran, as a precautionary measure, direct flights between India and Iran were temporarily suspended with effect from 27 February. Advisories were issued to avoid travel and returning passengers were started to be screened. This is an ongoing exercise.
Our Embassy in Tehran and Consulates in Bandar Abbas and Zahidan are naturally reaching out immediately to Indian nationals in Iran and ascertaining their welfare.
An advisory was issued asking our nationals to observe appropriate precautions. Emergency contact details of the Indian Mission were put out. Embassy and Consulate officials have been reassuring the Indian nationals and ensuring that they are in good health and had adequate provisions. I mention this as an overall approach but also with specific reference to the fishermen community whose welfare has been raised with me by a number of hon. Members.
Given the large number of Indians in Iran, it was natural that we should seek to sequence their return, taking into account their location and exposure. The initial focus is on visiting pilgrims. Many of them are in Qom, where Coronavirus incidence has been strong. The nature of residency also increases the risks of exposure. Age is also a factor to be taken into account. As their welfare is being currently addressed, we are now focusing on Indian students. Many of them are studying medicine and are fully aware of the precautions to be taken in this difficult situation. The Embassy is in regular contact with them as a group. Our understanding is that the region where most fishermen are located has not been affected so severely. These factors will guide our approach in the coming days.
Over the last few days, the Government has been making focused efforts for the safe return of the stranded Indians. Given the scale of COVID-19 and its pressure on Iran's own resources, a team of six Indian health officials has been deputed to Iran in order to set up testing and sampling facilities there. The first batch of 108 samples were received in India on 7 March. These were tested and 58 Indian pilgrims (25 men, 31 women and two children), who tested negative, were repatriated in IAF C-17 special flight on 10 March. We have also received samples of 529 more Indians on this flight which have been tested in National Institute of Virology, Pune. So far, 299 of them have tested negative. Some mort results are awaited. We continue to collect more samples in Tehran and our endeavour is to ensure the earliest possible return of our nationals after appropriate testing and screening. We are working with the Iranian authorities to operate some limited commercial flights to facilitate early return. Our Embassy, with cooperation of the Iranian authorities is making arrangements for medical care and monitoring of those who have tested positive.
Our Embassy staff and the medical team are working round- the-clock under difficult conditions to ensure the objective of earliest possible return. The House will appreciate their operational constraints, given that there have been restrictions that have been instituted for public health reasons in Iran. It is not easy to organize transport, accommodation and other logistics. The Iranian system is very stretched but we do appreciate their cooperation in these difficult circumstances.
Hon. Speaker, Sir, I visited Srinagar recently. I took the initiative to meet parents of some of the students who are in Iran. Their anxiety at this time is completely understandable. I shared with them in detail the ground situation and sought their understanding. I assured them that Government would facilitate the earliest possible return of their children. I would like to share with the House that the sampling of these students has begun today.
Our Consulate in Bandar Abbas are in touch with the Indian fishermen, who are in southern provinces of Iran, including in cities of Asaalouyeh, Chiruyeh and Kish. Some of them have been visited and others would be soon. Provision of essential supplies to them is being ensured. As per available information, of them are all in good health. I assure the House that we will continuously track their welfare and respond to their needs.
The House will surely appreciate the few other Nations have done what we have with respect to the COVID-19. The global Coronavirus situation is being monitored on a continuous basis by a Group of Secretaries headed by the Cabinet Secretary and a Group of Ministers, headed by the Minister of Health and Family Welfare. My Ministerial colleague has already apprised the House of measures being taken to control and contain the spread of virus within the country. The Prime Minister himself has reviewed the situation from time to time. We have been regularly issuing travel advisories and visa guidelines that reflect the situation in countries of concern.
In many respects, India has been ahead of the curve in taking precautionary measures.
Sir, the House should also be aware that in view of the further spread of Coronavirus, the Government decided yesterday to take more stringent measures in regard to international travel. The reason for this is obvious. All the cases so far have come directly from those who have a travel history. In doing so, we are very clear that we will do whatever we must to ensure that the spread of Coronavirus is restricted and that the health security of India is ensured.
Let me spell out some of the measures that the Group of Ministers at a meeting yesterday approved. They will come into effect at 12:00 GMT on 13th March at the port of departure. These measures include: one, all existing visas, except diplomatic, official, UN and International Organisations, employment, project visas, stand suspended till 15th April, 2020; two, visa free travel facility granted to OCI card holders has also been kept in abeyance till 15th April, 2020; and three, all incoming travellers, including Indian nationals, arriving from or having visited China, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, France, Spain and Germany after 15th February shall be quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days. It was also decided that any foreign national who intends to travel to India for compelling reasons may contact the nearest Indian Mission. Indian nationals are strongly advised to avoid all non-essential travel abroad. On their return, they can be subjected to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days. International traffic through land borders will be restricted to designated checkpoints with robust screening facilities. These will be notified separately by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Sir, the situation in Italy is now emerging as a cause of great concern. I would like to share with the hon. Members that steps in this regard have already been initiated. It has been decided to make provision for testing primarily for students and compassionate cases in Italy and collect samples for testing. A medical team is being sent there from India. Those tested negative will be allowed to travel and will be quarantined on arrival in India for 14 days. The challenge is growing by the day in Europe and we will respond accordingly. We have appointed in the Ministry of External Affairs a senior official to coordinate our Coronavirus response internationally. A nodal office is being established to speedily process requests for assistance that are naturally expected to increase from different parts of the world. There will be some pressing or some unusual situations and we recognise that and we will respond to that. The details of the nodal office will be made available very soon.
Hon. Speaker, Sir, I am confident that the hon. Members of this House will join me in commending the efforts of our medical teams, the officials of the Indian Embassy and Consulates, the Air Force crew, the Air India crew and all those who in India are working tirelessly and selflessly to ensure that our people in Iran and other countries are safe, and can return expeditiously. The Coronavirus challenge will require a focused and sustained effort on our part and we will keep the House apprised of developments.
Finally, I would like to strongly emphasise that the Government remains fully committed towards the welfare of our nationals in any part of the world as well as ensuring the security and safety of our homeland. This has been the hallmark of our foreign policy. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
First Day of Lockdown: Army Absorbs 277 more Evacuees from Iran, Orders Work from Home for HQ personnel, New Delhi, 25 March 2020.
On the first day of the 21 Day Lock-down period, Army facility in Jodhpur received 277 evacuees from Iran that included 273 pilgrims. The evacuees included 149 women & six children were transferred on IA Flights from Delhi to Jodhpur and screened on arrival at Jodhpur airport before being taken to the medical facility which has been designed not just for isolation but also for mental & physical wellness through a regimented routine including some sports and recreational activities.
At the HQ level, Army called off the day for office goers to review the situation and minimise exposure except for those involved in essential duties. The global lock-down has affected and significantly reduced the office work be it international cooperation, training events, postings, courses, duty moves etc. Emergency staff including duty officials, medical fraternity, drivers, cooks and other support staff continued to work as hither to fore.
Army at present is operating medical facilities for evacuees at Manesar, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur with evacuees from Iran, Italy and Malaysia occupying these. Evacuees from Wuhan & Japan have already been discharged after full protocol was observed. Of the over 1200 evacuees, medical staff and Air crew kept in these facilities till now, only one case of +ve COVID-19 has been reported so for. This does not include another case reported from on IAF Facility in Hindon.
In addition to the above, more Army medical facilities at Jhansi, Binnaguri and Gaya are kept at standby with an additional collective capacity of 1600 beds. More facilities are kept at short notice. This does not include the additional capacity created and kept ready by the sister services i.e., Navy and IAF.
Indian Army is prepared to take the present and future challenges with all its might and will continue to support the National effort. Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB).
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had a telephonic conversation with Prime Minister of Israel, New Delhi, 12 March 2020.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi received a telephone call yesterday evening from the Prime Minister of Israel, H.E. Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu.
The leaders reviewed the excellent progress in bilateral relations. They also exchanged views on the global situation in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Ministry of Defence signs Rs 880 crore contract for Light Machine Guns with Israeli firm, New Delhi, 19 March 2020.
The Indian Armed Forces' long-standing requirement of a modern state-of-the-art Light Machine Gun (LMG) has finally fructified. The Acquisition Wing of Ministry of Defence has signed the capital acquisition contract with Israel Weapons Industries for procurement of 16,479 LMGs at a cost of Rs 880 crore with the approval of Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh.
The contracted Negev 7.62X51 mm LMG is a combat proven weapon and currently used by several countries around the globe. This LMG will greatly enhance the lethality and range of a soldier vis-a-vis the presently used weapon.
The provisioning of this operationally urgent and very critically needed weapon will boost the confidence of the frontline troops and provide much needed combat power to the Armed Forces. Source: Press Information Bureau (PIB).
Unstarred Question No.2933 Repatriation of Persons from Kuwait, Rajya Sabha, 19 March 2020.
2933. SHRI T.G. VENKATESH:
Will the Minister of EXTERNAL AFFAIRS be pleased to state:
(a) whether Government is aware that large number of persons who have gone to Kuwait are struggling to come back to India;
(b) if so, the details thereof;
(c) whether State Government of Andhra Pradesh has sought any interference of the Ministry to bring them back to Andhra Pradesh, if so, the details thereof; and
(d) the steps being taken by Government in this regard?
THE MINISTER OF STATE IN THE MINISTRY OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS [SHRI V. MURALEEDHARAN]
(a) & (b) A very small proportion, of over one million Indians in Kuwait, sought assistance for repatriation. 683 Indians were provided Ministry’s assistance to return to India in 2019.
(c) & (d) Several State Governments, Members of Parliament and Officials, including from Andhra Pradesh, approached the Indian Mission in Kuwait for assistance in cases of repatriation and other issues regarding Indian Workers. There were three such references from MPs and Officials from Andhra Pradesh in 2020. Besides, the Mission received 1189 complaints in 2019, and 739 complaints in 2018 from residents of Andhra Pradesh.
Not all the complainants seek repatriation. Whenever applicable, Mission is able to coordinate with local authorities and the sponsor families, and repatriate/deport the distressed back to India. The remaining cases get resolved through negotiations. On receiving the complainants from the Domestic Service Workers (DSWs), Mission accommodates the deserving cases in shelter and simultaneously takes up this issue with Domestic Labour Office under Ministry of Social Affairs & Labour (MoSAL). Thirty-two female workers from Andhra Pradesh are currently in the shelter.
Further, workers (other than DSW) under work visa category also approach the Mission with requests for repatriation. Their cases are perused with Public Authority for Manpower (PAM) under MoSAL and clearance obtained for leaving the country after settlement of the issues involved. Certain cases are also resolved by Mission through direct negotiation with the sponsor/company. Mission extends all possible assistance to the distressed overseas workers in accordance with guidelines of Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF). Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Telephonic Conversation between PM and Amir of the State of Qatar, New Delhi, 26 March 2020
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had a telephonic conversation today with His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al Thani, the Amir of the State of Qatar.
The two leaders discussed the ongoing developments related to the COVID-19 global pandemic and its social and economic impact. They exchanged notes about the measures taken in their respective countries to contain the spread of the virus. Prime Minister also informed HH the Amir about the recent regional initiatives among the SAARC countries, and the Virtual Summit among G-20 Leaders earlier in the day.
Both leaders expressed hope that the efforts and the measures being taken to stop the spread of the disease by all affected countries, would yield early and positive results. They emphasised the importance of international solidarity and information-sharing in fighting the pandemic.
Prime Minister thanked HH Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani for his personal attention to the welfare of the Indian nationals living and working in Qatar, particularly in the present situation. HH The Amir assured Prime Minister about the safety and welfare of all Indian expatriates in Qatar.
Prime Minister and HH the Amir agreed to maintain regular contact and consultation on the evolving situation. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Prime Minister's Telephone Conversation with Crown Prince Mohd. Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, New Delhi, 17 March 2020.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had a telephone conversation today with the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, His Highness Mohammed bin Salman. The two leaders discussed the global situation regarding the COVID – 19 pandemic.
Prime Minister emphasised the need for coordinated efforts to adequately address this global challenge, which has impacted not only the health and well-being of several hundred thousand people but also threatens to adversely affect the economy in many parts of the world.
In this context, the Prime Minister mentioned India’s recent initiative to organise a video conference among SAARC countries.
The two leaders agreed that a similar exercise at the level of G20 leaders, under the aegis of Saudi Arabia as the Chair of G20, would be useful at a global scale, both for discussing specific measures to address the challenges posed by the global outbreak of COVID-19 and also to instil confidence in the global populace.
The Prime Minister and the Crown Prince decided that their officials would remain in close contact in this regard. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Telephonic Conversation between PM and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, New Delhi, 26 March 2020.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi spoke on telephone today with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.
The two leaders exchanged information and views on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the situation in their respective countries, as well as the steps being taken by their Governments. They agreed that the next few weeks would be crucial to control the spread of the virus, and required concerted and coordinated efforts by all countries. In this context, they appreciated the organisation of a Virtual Summit among G20 Leaders earlier in the day, to discuss the pandemic.
Both leaders emphasised the importance they attach to the strength and richness of the bilateral relationship. They agreed to maintain regular consultations between their officials in the present situation, particularly to ensure continuity of logistical supply lines.
HH the Crown Prince assured Prime Minister about the welfare of the over 2 million Indians living in UAE and contributing to its economy. Prime Minister thanked the Crown Prince for his personal attention to the health and safety of Indian expatriates in the present situation.
Prime Minister expressed his best wishes for the good health of the Crown Prince and the entire Royal Family as well as all Emirati citizens. The Crown Prince warmly reciprocated the good wishes. Source: Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
As part of its editorial policy, the MEI@ND standardizes spelling and date formats to make the text uniformly accessible and stylistically consistent. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views/positions of the MEI@ND. Editor, MEI@ND: P R Kumaraswamy
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