Indian seafarers stranded in different parts of the world will have to register for evacuation through the Vande Bharat Mission so that the government can evacuate them, sources said here on Wednesday. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is compiling data about the seafarers who are likely to be part of the third phase of the evacuation towards the end of this month.
Informed sources said in response to online appeals from the seafarers that the COVID-19 module of the MEA is tracking around 20,000 seafarers located in the Caribbean, Latin America, Spanish coast, Gulf of Mexico among other areas.
“We have so far received 1,77,000 registered requests for evacuation of Indian nationals stranded in different parts of the world. This count is expected to go up in the coming few days as more people, especially the seafarers are being added. The seafarers will be part of the same ongoing global evacuation process and we are at present adding the data to our system as the requests pour in,” said a source familiar with the COVID-19 related response of the Ministry of External Affairs.
Earlier, Minister of Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya had stated in an online telecast that organisations willing for organising evacuation of seafarers can reach out to the government as the authorities will organise charter flights for the stranded nationals. However, MEA sources said the evacuation would be through the Vande Bharat Mission.
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Over the past few weeks, seafarers scattered across the world and their relatives in India have been reaching out to the government seeking evacuation. The official pointed out that once clusters of seafarers are found in zones like the Caribbeans, they will be evacuated through non-schedule commercial flights.
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“We are aware of the difficulties that they are facing in the territorial waters of the United States, Suriname, and several other countries in the Western hemisphere. They will be evacuated in due process,” said the official, indicating that the window of evacuation is likely to last for the next three to four weeks.