Covid-19: 6,000 Americans waiting to be airlifted from India

Aircraft stock photo

Lockdown in India makes repatriation efforts more challenging.

With India under world’s largest lockdown until May 3, US is arranging a few more flights to bring some 6000 Americans stranded in India back home.

India is “more challenging at the moment” in the repatriation efforts because of the lockdown, according to the State Department’s top consular official.

“We’ve already coordinated the repatriation of more than 4,000 US citizens,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Ian Brownlee said Wednesday. “We have four more flights scheduled in the coming days.”

It “is no small feat in the midst of a nationwide lockdown” to get people to New Delhi and Mumbai from where the flights to the US leave, he said.

US diplomats “are actively coordinating with passengers arriving on feeder flights and buses from all across this huge country” to the departure hubs, he added.

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US has repatriated about 70,000 Americans from  around the world since the onset of the covid-19 crisis and there  are about 17,000 Americans still waiting to return to the US.

In a TV interview Thursday, Secretary of state Mike Pompeo said “All across the world now, almost 70,000 people that we’ve helped repatriate back here home, back to their families.”

“It’s been a big task,” he said. It became clear very early on that when planes and buses and aircraft stopped traveling, we had a lot of Americans, some of them on mission trips, some of them on business or vacation, all who needed help getting home.”

“It’s not the normal line of business for the State Department,” Pompeo said, “but we began to build out a plan, a little commercial airline.

“And we’ve gotten people back from Morocco and from India and from the foot of Mount Everest in Nepal and the Amazon forest,” he said. “We’re proud of the work we’ve done.”

Assuring stranded Americans around the world, Pompeo said, “We still got folks who are out there, and we’re working to make sure we get everybody back just as safely and as quickly as we can.”

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