New Delhi, July 04: The government’s biggest evacuation initiative, Vande Bharat Mission has repatriated over five lakh stranded citizens to India from 137 countries including from remote areas in less than two months the Ministry of External Affairs said.
"The VBM operations commenced on May 7, 2020, and in less than two months 5,03,990 stranded Indians from 137 countries, including from remote areas, have returned to their homes. Considering that the initial target to bring stranded Indians with compelling reasons was only 2 lakh, this is a significant achievement," the statement read.
The largest number of stranded Indians who returned under Vande Bharat Mission is from UAE (57,305), followed by Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the USA. A total of 91,193 Indians returned from Nepal through land border check posts, the Ministry said.
Kerala received a maximum of 94,085 stranded Indians, followed by Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh, it said. However, more citizens expected to return in Phase-4.
This massive operation was carried out with the support and cooperation of Indian missions abroad, the civil aviation, home and health ministries, and state governments. Under this evacuation policy, Indians having "compelling reasons" to return like pregnant women, elderly people, students and those facing the prospect of deportation were being brought back home amid the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
The first phase of the mission was carried out from May 7 to 15. The second phase of the evacuation mission was scheduled from May 17 to 22. However, the government had extended it until June 10 whereas the third phase of the evacuation exercise was scheduled from June 11 to July 2.
The massive operation involved 860 Air India flights 1,256 chartered flights and eight naval ships. The number of stranded Indians returned by Air India was 1,64,121, meanwhile, the Indian Navy evacuated 3,987 in 8 ships from Maldives, Iran, and Colombo.hartered flights transported 2,30,832 passengers and foreign carriers evacuated 3,969 and about 60 air ambulances were operated under the mission.