Jeddah: Like some thousands of their compatriots Shaikh Ayaz Hussain of Azampura in Hyderabad, Dontula Shivaji of Kadem in Nirmal district left Saudi Arabia for India for their annual vacation of a month, they didn’t expect to spend nearly seven months in the homeland.
They are among thousands of Telangana workers who are sole breadwinners for their families. In an unexpected and shocking move, they were stranded in their homeland as Saudi Arabia suspended the arrival of international flights from India into the country as a preventive measure of COVID-19.
The stranded workers were hoping to resume their jobs so they can support their families. They were optimistic when Saudi Arabia allowed partial flights from last week. However, the Coronavirus crisis delivered yet another blow to them when Saudi Arabia informed airlines that suspension of incoming flights from India would remain suspended due to COVID-19. It also banned any person who has been in India the last 14 days prior to arrival to the Kingdom, thus closing the intra-gulf travel.
With this, NRIs stranded in the home will be able to fly back to their working country only after Saudi Arabia withdraws the suspension. However, outgoing flights to India under special arrangement continue to operate from the country.
Most of the NRIs in India, who were stranded due to suspension of flights, are concerned for their employment as tens of thousands of NRI workers have lost their jobs across the gulf as result of the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic.
The continuation of suspension of incoming flights from India can cause further acceleration in terminations and aggregate volatile job market for the workers.
International passenger flights have been suspended by India and Saudi Arabia from March due to the outbreak.
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