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Coronavirus | Indian mission offers help in arranging accommodation for stranded Indians in U.K.

Shoppers queue to enter a Sainsbury’s supermarket, as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues, in the United Kingdom.

Shoppers queue to enter a Sainsbury’s supermarket, as the spread of the coronavirus disease continues, in the United Kingdom.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

The Indian High Commission in London has set up an email system for Indian passport holders to get in touch with details of their situation

The Indian High Commission in London is offering assistance with organising accommodation for Indian nationals stranded in the U.K. in light of India’s ban on travellers from the U.K. and Europe over coronavirus pandemic.

The mission had already set up an email system for Indian passport holders to get in touch with details of their situation and continued to field hundreds of calls and social media messages from Indian professionals and students desperate to return home.

All about COVID-19

“High Commission can help you with accommodation. You may let us have your location by email at info.london@mea.gov.in. We will give you further advise by email,” the mission said, in response to pleas for help.

The High Commission continues to engage with the U.K. authorities on guidance for Indians in the U.K. whose visas are due to expire but are currently unable to leave, notes its latest advisory.

Among those seeking help is an animator and graphic designer who is among a group of four Indian professionals, who say their confirmed tickets to return to India were automatically cancelled as the ban came into effect from Wednesday.

Now without jobs and savings how are we going to survive in here, he says.

Also read | Stay where you are, MEA tells Indians abroad

“I know this is a dynamic situation, however it is pretty disappointing to see that we still do not have a decision from U.K. authorities for people stranded in the U.K.. Chinese nationals have received an automatic extension of visas, why are we not following the same model,” asks a senior business analyst from Leeds.

There are others keen to know if they would be able to travel back to India after March 31, the current deadline for India’s travel ban. However, there is an increasing fear that the travel ban would be further extended given the rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has claimed 144 lives in the U.K.

Also read | Plea in Delhi HC against Centre’s bar on passenger travel from EU, U.K.

Meanwhile, student groups have continued to rally around to help Indian nationals through the crisis and called on the U.K. Home Office to help those stranded with the additional worry of an expiring student visa.

“We have set up a team to specifically provide guidance and support to all students in the U.K. in these unprecedented times. We are getting queries linked to health, travel and accommodation and even loneliness,” said a spokesperson for the Indian National Students Association (INSA).

We request both the Home Office in the U.K. and the High Commission of India to work together, especially for students whose U.K. visa is set to run out by the end of March, the spokesperson said.

Universities across the U.K. have said they are mindful of the plight of international students, many of whom have nowhere to go as campuses go into shutdown.

Universities are particularly mindful of international students who are separated from friends and family and may be unable to travel because of the pandemic. Universities will continue to do all they can to support those remaining on campuses and keep them safe, and are regularly communicating with students and staff to provide them with timely and accurate information, said Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities U.K., the representative body for U.K. universities.

Meanwhile, the U.K. remains under strict social distancing conditions, with the government imposing curbs on all non-essential social contact and travel as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country hit 3,269.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 7:50:03 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/coronavirus-indian-mission-offers-help-in-arranging-accommodation-for-stranded-indians-in-uk/article31117483.ece

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