Australia to resume repatriation flights from India

Australia’s National Security Committee has announced that they will resume repatriation flights for Australians stranded in India once the temporary ban ends on May 15.

Aerial view over wing of an aeroplane.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that they will start bringing home “vulnerable” citizens following outrage on the ban on all travellers, including Australia’s own citizens, from entering the country from India. Picture: Joshua_Willson from Pixabay

CAPE TOWN, May 7 (ANA) – Australia’s National Security Committee has announced that they will resume repatriation flights for Australians stranded in India once the temporary ban ends on May 15.

According to the BBC, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday that they would start bringing home “vulnerable” citizens and that the government was yet to decide on whether to reopen commercial flights from India.

The ban on all travellers, including Australia’s own citizens, from entering the country from India stated that offenders would face five years in jail or a fine of A$66,000.

“The original decision to put in place that biosecurity order until the 15th of May has proved very effective and it will run its full course until that time without any change,” Morrison told reporters.

“What we will be doing is receiving our first repatriation flight into the Northern Territory as part of the charter arrangements we have… to bring back those first people from India at that time,” he said.

Around 900 Australians have registered as “vulnerable” with the Department of Foreign Affairs. An estimated 9,000 Australians are currently in India, which is in the grip of a deadly second wave of Covid-19.

ABC News reported that the first repatriation flight has the capacity to carry 200 passengers and those returning from India will undergo quarantine at the Howard Springs facility outside Darwin.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke warned that the logistics in India were difficult and that the repatriation process was “very complex”.

“People are living in remote towns and villages and to get them safely to an airport is a very difficult undertaking,” said Hawke.

“These are the real, practical consequences… there are thousands of people, many dying on the streets in India, so it’s going to be very complex,” he said.

– African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Yaron Blecher

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