Special Correspondent

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Government has announced a series of measures, including the setting up of a helpline and designating officials, to tackle the problems of Kerala expatriates who have been evacuated from Lebanon.

Addressing a press conference here on Thursday, Jiji Thomson, Secretary, Non-Resident Keralites Affairs (NoRKA) Department, said NoRKA had made arrangements to receive the expatriates returning from Lebanon at three points Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai. The Government would take the responsibility of reaching the Keralites to their homes once they landed in the country.

The Chief Secretary convened a high-level meeting to discuss ways to tackle the influx from Lebanon. Senior officials of the Police, Revenue, Health, Transport, and Immigration Departments, Southern Railways, and Indian attended the meeting.

Mr. Thomson said the Government did not have any data relating to the number of Malayalis stranded in Lebanon. But it wanted to be fully prepared to meet the needs of those returning home. Around 600 Indians were being evacuated in the first batch. The evacuees would be taken to Cyprus and from there brought back home by air. Since the Government was not sure about the landing point, it had made arrangements at the three main airports. The expatriates, numbering 12,000, were mostly from Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In Delhi, K.R. Raju, NoRKA Additional Secretary, would be the designated officer who would arrange for the reception of the expatriates, lodging, and transportation. In Mumbai, NoRKA Development Officer B. Mohan Kumar would be the designated official, while in Chennai, NoRKA has entrusted the responsibility to Nand Govind of the Malayali Association