Kerala

Rising demand to bring back expats stuck in Gulf

Anxiety is looming large on the prospect of expatriate Indians, particularly Malayalis, stuck abroad during the COVID-19-induced lockdown. Tension is mounting among large sections of Keralites even as the situation has started to worsen in the Gulf countries, particularly the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Kuwait.

Outcries have risen from socio-political leaders in the State demanding special initiative from the country and its external affairs managers to bring back the expatriates before a possible explosion of the pandemic in the Gulf.

What worries the expatriate community in the Gulf as well as their folks and well-wishers back in the State is the poor condition in which they are stuck in countries such as the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman. A large number of Keralites are cooling their heels in labour camps, which are potential COVID-19 volcanoes.

“The situation is worsening. Many are under severe mental duress, having confined like a herd in camps during the long days of curfew,” said Anas Yasin, a Malayali journalist in the Gulf.

The treatment they get in those countries is not satisfactory, especially during a communicable disease outbreak. The fact that even uninfected people are forced to live with some infected persons in some camps in the Gulf is giving shudders to their families back home.

The death of a few Keralites in the Gulf as well as in other countries, including the U.S., has increased the tension in the minds of relatives back in Kerala. “The situation over there (Gulf) is bleak. The treatment conditions and the COVID-19 management system we have here in Kerala are much superior and incomparable. We don’t want our folks to die abroad,” said Amin Faizal, a school teacher who has his brother and cousins stuck in Saudi Arabia.

E.T. Mohammed Basheer, MP, in an appeal to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, has demanded that special efforts should be made to address the Gulf Malayali crisis. He asked Mr. Vijayan to convince the Prime Minister during his videoconference about the gravity of the situation. “They are dangerously living in single quarters. If we don’t do something drastic and urgent now, the situation can turn like that of Europe,” Mr. Basheer said. He said he had also communicated to ambassadors and foreign affairs officials.

Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) district president Sayed Sadikali Shihab Thangal said that the ‘human rights’ of the expatriates should be given the value they deserve. He said the State and Central governments should contact the powers concerned to address the woes of the expatriates abroad.

Muslim Educational Society (MES) district committee member E.P. Ubaidullah demanded that special flights be chartered to bring back the expatriates stuck in the Gulf, and special quarantine camps be opened near the airports in Kerala. “They should be kept in quarantine for the stipulated period,” he said.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2020 8:43:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/rising-demand-to-bring-back-expats-stuck-in-gulf/article31311343.ece

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