Above 7 lakh Indian workers returned from Gulf during a pandemic, many went back: Jaishankar

During the pandemic, Indian missions in the region extended support to Indians by using the Indian Community Welfare Fund and coordinating with community associations. The assistance covered expenses related to accommodation, airfare, and emergency medical care.

The West Asian region is home to around nine million Indian expatriates, with the largest numbers in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. An estimated 97,802 workers have returned from Kuwait, 72,259 from Oman, 51,190 from Qatar, and 27,453 from Bahrain.

An estimated 716,662 Indian workers returned from six West Asian countries amid the Covid-19 pandemic and many of them went back once again after economic recovery and easing of travel restrictions in that region.

According to estimates provided by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, 330,058 Indians have returned from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and 137,900 more Indian workers from Saudi Arabia.

An estimated 97,802 workers have returned from Kuwait, 72,259 from Oman, 51,190 from Qatar and 27,453 from Bahrain.

“While a large number of Indian workers in the Gulf returned to India as a result of the impact of COVID-19, economic recovery in that region and their increasing openness to travel from India has now seen the return of many of them,” Jaishankar told CPI(M) Said in response to a question by MP Abdul Majeed Arif.
The West Asian region is home to around nine million Indian expatriates, with the largest numbers in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Amid the pandemic, Jaishankar said, the government’s priority was to ensure that the impact of the crisis on Indian workers in terms of loss of employment is minimized. He said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and missions in the Gulf are working with governments in the region to ensure the welfare of workers and facilitate financial payments due to them.

“As the pandemic has eased in recent months, this focus has shifted to pressure for the speedy return of workers and families. To that end, the pressure was put on all Gulf countries to set up air bubbles and ease visa, travel, and health restrictions,” he said.

“All Gulf countries have responded favorably to these efforts of the Government, resulting in a steady flow of returnees to the Gulf. The Government will continue to make this a priority in engagement with the Gulf countries,” he said.

Jaishankar said that the Indian missions in West Asian countries are making efforts with the governments of the host countries for the return of Indian workers, recovery of their due payments, fresh recruitment in the light of economic reforms, and other welfare measures.

The government launched a program in January for Indian blue-collar workers in the UAE to increase their employability and wages.

During the pandemic, Indian missions in the region extended support to Indians by using the Indian Community Welfare Fund and coordinating with community associations. The assistance covered expenses related to accommodation, airfare, and emergency medical care.

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