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India and Pakistan: Coronavirus

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 1st May 2020.

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Photo of Tan Dhesi Tan Dhesi Shadow Minister (Transport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what estimate he has made of the number of British residents in (a) India and (b) Pakistan who are unable to return to the UK due to the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Nigel Adams Nigel Adams Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

Both India and Pakistan are a priority for the UK Government.

We have been working closely with the Government of Pakistan and airlines to ensure British Nationals can return home from Pakistan. Our High Commission in Islamabad has worked closely with the Government of Pakistan and Pakistan International Airlines to ensure continued commercial flights from Pakistan to the UK. The UK Government has announced two rounds of special charter flights from Pakistan to bring home British travellers and their direct dependents, operated by Qatar Airways. The first round of flights were between 21 and 27 April, including seven from Islamabad and three from Lahore, to London Heathrow and Manchester. Following high demand for these flights, there will be a second round of nine direct charter flights from 30 April, including one from Karachi.

Repatriations from India is one of our largest Covid-19 repatriation operations, based on the number of Britons there and the absence of commercial options. The scale of the challenge is immense. As all of India is under lockdown, we continue to engage with state authorities to enable British Nationals to reach airports.

In the three weeks up to 28 April, we have chartered 40 flights from 11 Indian cities, including Delhi, Goa, Mumbai and others in Punjab, Gujarat and Bengal. Over 10,000 people have returned home on UK charter flights and we continue to work day and night to return more on daily flights from across India. An additional 12 flights are due to run between 29 April and 4 May, servicing those locations with the highest numbers of BN remaining in India.

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