Caught in the COVID-19 Confusion

Business COVID-19 Health International

With no flights to return home; workers are stranded in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

Rahul Padman

April 13, 2020

Amid the world-wide spread of COVID-19, the Indian expatriate community in the Middle Eastern countries is facing problems.  With jobs lost, due to shutting down of businesses in the lockdown, the deserted workers are unable to travel back home due to cancellation of international flights. Thus, many of them have taken to social media to lobby for help. 

Amina Rasheed, a 31-year-old native of Vadakara from Kozhikode district of Kerala was six months into her pregnancy when she travelled to Bahrain to visit her husband for a month in February. On March 22, India cancelled all international travels, thus preventing her from returning home. She hoped that she will be able to travel before the expiry of her visa to avoid further problems with the immigration authorities in Bahrain for staying illegally.

Medical treatment in the Gulf countries is expensive, unless individuals are covered by medical insurance. Basic health insurance is provided by the employers according to the law, but this privilege is not extended to the employee’s dependents. Hence, majority of the Indian population working in these countries are salaried labourers who cannot afford an all-inclusive insurance coverage.

“A meeting is due this afternoon to discuss the plight of stranded expats at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinated by the Health Ministry in Bahrain,” said a source at the MFA. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates has warned of restrictions on work quotas if the countries refuse to accept their citizens, as well as suspension of the Memorandum of Understanding.

The Supreme Court will hear the writ petition filed by Pravasi Legal Cell and Lok Sabha MP, MK Raghavan seeking immediate intervention to evacuate the Indians stranded in the GCC nations.  The petition solicits medical support.   The petition appeals the Supreme Court to direct the Government of India to allow operations of direct flights that can repatriate these stranded workers.

Picture courtesy :


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *