International

Come home now or be ready to remain where you are, says U.S. official to Americans

U.S. State Department’s top diplomat for South and Central Asia Alice Wells. File Photo.

U.S. State Department’s top diplomat for South and Central Asia Alice Wells. File Photo.   | Photo Credit: AP

The United States has repatriated 1,300 of its citizens from India thus far. Five flights were scheduled for this week from India

U.S. citizens needed to make a final decision on whether to stay in place or return to the U.S. now as there was no guarantee that evacuation flights would continue indefinitely, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Ian Browlnee said during a briefing call in Washington D.C. on Monday. The U.S. has repatriated over 43,000 of its nationals since January 29, due to the COVID-19 crisis, as per an official estimate.

“… I want to remind everyone today that if you are an American overseas and you’re still on the fence about whether to come home or not, it’s time to get off that fence. Come home now or be ready to remain where you are,” Mr. Brownlee said.

 

“The Department of State always stands ready to assist our fellow citizens overseas, but we cannot guarantee that this worldwide repatriation effort will continue indefinitely. Some Americans are waiting to see how bad it’s going to get before making that call. I cannot stress this enough: Make that call now,” he said.

The United States has repatriated about 1,300 of its citizens from India thus far, Alice Wells, the State Department’s top diplomat for South and Central Asia said. Five flights were scheduled for this week from India, with over 7,000 individuals registering their interest as per Ms. Wells.

U.S. citizens and certain green card holders are eligible for flights as per the U.S. embassy in New Delhi.

“As of today, the United States has organized 13 flights from South and Central Asia, including special flights home for about 2,900 U.S. citizens from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan,” Ms. Wells said.

“Significant numbers” of those in India who register to return to the U.S. choose not to take a seat that is made available to them, on the day of the flight, Ms. Wells said, adding that while she did not want to judge the decisions per se, a decision [on whether to fly back to the U.S. or be prepared to sit it out in in their current places] needed to be made.

Over the weekend, U.S. officials in India called over 800 people to ask if they wanted to get on a Monday flight to the U.S. “We got 10 positive responses, 10 out of 800 calls. So that’s just an indication of the uncertainty of some of these numbers we’re looking at,” Mr. Brownlee, said.

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An earlier version of this article had accidentally mixed up quotes between the two speakers cited in the article. This version corrects that error.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 1:58:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/come-home-now-or-be-ready-to-remain-where-you-are-us-diplomat-alice-wells-to-americans/article31280255.ece

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