NEW DELHI: Over 2,200 French citizens who were stranded in India due to the COVID-19 lockdown have been evacuated till now, France's ambassador to India, Emmanuel Lenain, said on Saturday, while appreciating the "excellent cooperation" of central and local authorities for enabling the process.
The envoy recalled that French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a long telephonic meeting on March 31, in which they fixed areas of collaboration, discussed best practices, shared latest information regarding the pandemic outbreak, particularly on research on a vaccine, and coordinated their international initiatives
On 31st Mar, Pres Macron&PM Modi had a long telephonic meeting. They fixed areas of collaboration,discussed best practices,shared latest info, particularly on research on a vaccine, and coordinated their international initiatives: Emmanuel Lenain, Ambassador of France to India pic.twitter.com/b6tyeQsFIE— ANI (@ANI) April 18, 2020
These high-level discussions were backed by work on the ground for repatriating French citizens visiting India. "Within a few weeks, thanks to the excellent cooperation of India's central and local authorities, we were able to organise the departure of French travellers from Kolkata, Kochi, Goa, Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai," he said.
"Since the suspension of international flights, more than 2,200 travellers have thus been able to return to France," Lenain added.
The high-level discussions were backed by work on the ground for repatriating French citizens visiting India. Since the suspension of international flights, more than 2,200 travellers have thus been able to return to France: Emmanuel Lenain, Ambassador of France to India https://t.co/CaoF3dYauQ— ANI (@ANI) April 18, 2020
To reach its people stranded at various areas across the country, the French Embassy said it had to run chartered buses to Pushkar, Rishikesh, Dehradun, Manali, Mandi, Amritsar, Varanasi, Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Pune, Surat, Cochin, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, and some more places.
"From the very beginning of the coronavirus crisis, our respective political authorities have been working closely together. It's during tough times that the full significance our partnership comes to the fore," the envoy stressed.
To contain the spread of the deadly contagion, which has infected over 14000 people across the country, the Centre has restricted all national and international flights from operating in India. As a result, thousands of foreigners, mostly on a visit to India, remained stranded at various locations within the country. Domestic airlines, along with a few international relief flights, have evacuated most of them so far.
On April 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the extension of COVID-19 lockdown till May 3.