Wellington, May 7, 2021
Editor’s Note: As we were posting this story, news was at hand that the New Zealand government could be considering repatriation flights to bring home stranded New Zealand citizens in India. We are also informed that at least one travel agent has been trying to arrange a charter flight from Delhi later this month. We will post details in due course.
New Zealand citizens stranded in India should be immediately evacuated by the government because their lives are in danger, according to an NGO.
New Zealanders are desperate to leave as Covid-19 infections soar but have not been able to because of a lack of commercial flights.
New Zealand’s cricketers are today flying back home on two private jets, paid for by the Indian Cricket Board.
Covid-19 threatens lives
Multicultural New Zealand, an umbrella organisation of ethnic communities, said that the government now needed to act on repatriation flights. Covid-19 was the enemy and the threat to human life was very real, President Pancha Narayanan said.
“It is like a war zone, and traditionally New Zealand has always repatriated its citizens from war zones, and I think that that kind of urgency needs to be exercised in getting New Zealanders back from the Indian subcontinent. There has been an incursion, it is a viral incursion; notwithstanding that, they are in serious danger and it is our duty as a Nation, and our duty to citizens to bring them back,” he said.
Examining legal position
The government has so far declined to lay on repatriation flights and that position may need to be tested legally, said Narayanan.
“We need to take some extraordinary measures, perhaps like sending an aircraft from New Zealand to bring back our citizens. I think it is worthwhile, and it is necessary. And perhaps, may also need to look at the responsibility of the government, centred around the legislation. We may have an independent look at it to see whether our government is actually exercising its duties appropriately,” Mr Narayanan said.
Passenger paid flights
But travellers should pay for their flights, he said.
“It is reasonable to expect that some of the people wanting to come back, citizens wanting to come back to New Zealand would bear the cost, and we should be able to manage their arrivals through MIQ, we should be prepared for that.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the message has always been very clear about the risks of travelling overseas.
She said that the lack of commercial flights was likely to be temporary, but officials were monitoring the situation.
Australia today said it would start repatriation flights on 15 May after its ban on travel from India ends.
Gill Bonnett is a Reporter at Radio New Zealand. The above Report has been published under a special agreement with www.rnz.co.nz; Sponsored by