India's external affairs minister S Jaishankar.

Almost half were from the UAE, followed by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman

The Covid-19 pandemic forced more than 700,000 Indian workers from six Gulf countries to return home, according to data by the Indian government

Of the 716,662 workers who returned to India, almost half were from the UAE (330,058), followed by Saudi Arabia (137,900), Kuwait (97,802) and Oman (72,259).

S. Jaishankar, the Minister of External Affairs of India, said during a Parliament session on Thursday that the workers returned under the aegis of the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM), a government-based repatriation mission for Indians stranded abroad due to Covid-19.

The Mission is currently in Phase 15, and has been highly successful in re-housing a number of workers in the Gulf countries they came from.

Missions, such as these, utilise the Indian Community Welfare Fund, in conjunction with community associations. This support includes expenses related to lodging, airfares and emergency medical care, said Jaishankar.

“Our objective is to get as many workers back there as possible; as many of them back to their old jobs…Retaining employment, ensuring that wages are paid, ensuring welfare of workers, these have been very much the priority of our missions in the Gulf,” he said. “From the highest level we have been engaged on this matter and we have been regularly talking to the governments of the Gulf at my level and at the ambassadors’ level.”

Source: Khaleej Times


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