23rd April 2020   •   article
The UK government is still struggling to bring back Britons stuck in India and Bangladesh

Image: British High Commission
The UK government is still struggling to bring back thousands of Britons stuck across South Asian countries, despite promises over a month ago.

But more progress was made this week as thousands began to arrive back home.

Over 5,000 British travellers currently stranded in India will soon get home on 12 additional charter flights that opened for bookings this week.

UK’s £75m airlift operation has resulted in charter flights only to India, Peru, South Africa and Nepal – excluding Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Lord Tariq Ahmad, UK Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, told MPs recently: "This is a huge and complex operation which also involves working with the Indian Government to enable people to move within India to get on these flights."

India is a priority country for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office – nuy made more challenging by the size of the country and the restrictions on movement in place.

This week the acting High Commissioner to India announced a further 17 chartered flights back to the UK for British travellers anxious to get home from all over the world. By the start of next week, they shoulf have around 5000 passengers back to the UK, though thousands more will still be stranded outside the UK. The HC have arranged for flights from Amristsar, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Goa and Mumbai to London.

The British government has said it is in the final stages of arranging special return flights, from Bangladesh, for short-term British visitors.

Due to flight restrictions there are currently no commercial flights to the UK from Bangladesh. Biman Bangladesh Airlines has extended the suspension of domestic and international flights, including from the UK, until April 30.

In Bangladesh, the British High Commissioner offered similar advice to Britons wanting to return to the UK: keep an eye on their website and their social media pages; these flights will not be free; these flights leave from Dhaka; the HC is about to launch an online registration process so they HC know which British visitors are in Bangladesh; once the flight are announced there will be a separate registration process to book tickets on flights.

For Britons stuck in Sri Lanka, the High Commission says: "A reminder that Qatar Airways continue to operate daily flights from Colombo to London via Doha. Contact @qatarairways
on: 0115570000; cmb-resv@lk.qatarairways.com"

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Sadia Humayun is a freelance journalist and writer
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