Stranded in Lanka for 2 months, over 2,400 Indians waiting for evacuation

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New Delhi: Stranded for over two months in a foreign land, over 2,400 Indians in Sri Lanka are still making rounds to the high commission in Colombo with no announcement yet about their possible evacuation from the island nation.

Adding to their woes are dwindling finances, homesickness and uncertainty about when they will be back home with their families.

The government launched the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’ on May 7 to bring back home Indians stranded in various countries due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions. Sri Lanka is not among the countries for which evacuation flights have been announced so far.

According to the Sri Lanka Tourism and Development Authority, over 2,400 Indians are stranded in the country due to the lockdown and travel restrictions imposed in view of the global pandemic.

“I am stuck in Colombo since two months. With limited financial support, I am struggling for my survival every day in this country. I have contacted the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka in this regard but the response from them is to wait for further phases of evacuation by Indian government, which is really painful and heart-breaking,” Vineeta, a Noida-based techie, said over phone from Colombo.

Vijay Pal Singh and his wife wanted to take some time off their hectic work schedules and planned a vacation to Sri Lanka, leaving their kids with the grandparents. However, the vacation turned out to be much longer than what they desired. “We had plans to take a break and spend time with each other, hence we left the kids back but our four-day break has now become a really long wait to be back home with our children. We have been forced to take time off work because we are not even in a position to work remotely from here,” Singh said.

Satendra Mishra, who went to Sri Lanka on a tourist visa said, “Till now no plans for evacuation from Sri Lanka have been announced. We are a group here and we are running out of savings to survive. Every morning we wake up to see a positive answer to our queries but there has been no news yet.”

Under phase one of the mission, the government has evacuated a total of 6,527 Indians from the Gulf region as well as countries like the US, the UK, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Malaysia and the Maldives.

In the second phase of the evacuation mission, the government will bring back people from Canada, Oman, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, France, Tajikistan, Singapore, the US, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Qatar, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Japan, Kuwait and Italy.