Thinley Namgay

Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji said that the government  would arrange five repatriation flights in the fourth phase to bring back 639 Bhutanese from the Middle East.

Starting May 24, three flights will be send to Kuwait, one to Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and another one to Kuwait and Bahrain. The flights will evacuate 398 Bhutanese from Kuwait, 131 from Dubai, and 110 from Kuwait-Bahrain.

In the first phase, 880 Bhutanese returned home, followed by 1,017 and 563 in the second and third phase, respectively.

After completing the fourth phase (May 24-June 1), 3,099 Bhutanese will have returned home.

According to the foreign minister, 4,348 Bhutanese have returned so far from 28 countries, including those who came through charted flights, special flights, and road transport.

Lyonpo said that there were still 12,759 Bhutanese in 70 countries. “Seventy of them from Canada and the USA have expressed their wish to come back to Bhutan.”

Lyonpo said that the only method to bring back the citizens was to send the direct flight and government was discussing with the embassies.

“We don’t have a problem to bring back Bhutanese from USA and Canada, but most of the airports in other countries are closed at present and there was no opportunity to shift from one airport to another. If the airports resume, the government will help,” Lyonpo said.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) of India has directed all the ministries, departments, state governments and authorities to extend the lockdown until May 31.

The notification states that the lockdown measures need to be implemented for a longer period in India to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

NDMA had also directed its National Executive Committee (NEC) to issue notifications in the guidelines as necessary, keeping in view the need to open up economic activities while containing the Covid-19.