Coronavirus: Abu Dhabi repatriates 180,000 blue collar workers after free testing

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The government revealed the scale of its efforts to return residents home

An immigration official checks documents of passenger at Airport. Wam

Passengers at Dubai International Airport wait for their flight to Calicut in Kerala. Courtesy: Indian Consulate

An woman carries a sleeping child as she waits at the Dubai International Airport to be repatriated to her home country. AFP

An Indian woman carries a child as she waits at the Dubai International Airport before leaving the country on a flight home on May 7. Karim Sahib / AFP

Health workers check passengers who arrived on an Emirates Airlines flight from London at Dubai International Airport amid the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic. AFP

Health workers check passengers who arrived on an Emirates Airlines flight from London at Dubai International Airport amid the coronavirus pandemic. AFP

Passengers of an Emirates airlines flight, departing to the Australian city of Sydney, wear protective gear at Dubai International Airport on May 22. Karim Sahib / AFP

Passengers of an Emirates airlines flight line up to be checked by health workers at the Dubai International Airport. Karim Sahib / AFP

Travellers walk through Dubai International Airport to board a repatriation flight. Karim Sahib / AFP

A passenger of an Emirates airlines flight checks in at Dubai International Airport. Karim Sahib / AFP

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The National

June 28, 2020

June 28, 2020

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Abu Dhabi's government flew 180,000 labourers home in the past three months in one of the largest operations of its kind.

Officials said blue collar workers were repatriated to their home countries following negative tests for Covid-19.

The huge repatriation campaign - the extent of which was not revealed at the time - came after officials last week said 570,000 people had been tested in the Mussaffah industrial district of the capital.

Abu Dhabi Emergency, Crisis and Disaster Committee said it had "coordinated repatriation flights for more than 180,000 workers during the past three months, after ensuring that these people were free from infection, and had received all their dues".

Prior to flights home, officials said they arranged "accommodation and food for workers who lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic, ensuring that all workers get their wages, dues and all other rights".

The committee did not list the countries that the flights were arrange to, but the district is home to thousands of Indian, Pakistan and Bangladeshi construction and industrial workers, among many other nationalities.

The testing operation in Mussaffah saw streets and public areas sprayed with disinfectant, while police enforced a strict 6pm to 6am curfew at one stage.

Thousands of residents were tested around the clock, as medics and officers went door to door to ensure no one was missed.

A similar operation in high density areas of downtown Abu Dhabi sees emergency teams going from building to building to test families and identify Covid-19 carriers.

Pakistan ends UAE repatriation mission - in pictures

Consul general Ahmed Amjad Ali speaks to journalists and residents during the campaign to repatriate Pakistani expats. Reem Mohammed / The National

Journalists and community leaders are briefed in the garden of the consulate. About 60,000 expats were flown home on special PIA, Emirates and flydubai services in recent weeks. Reem Mohammed / The National

Among those return home, on two special flydubai services, were almost 400 Pakistani prisoners who were released from Dubai's main jail. AFP

Health workers look on as Pakistani citizens check in at Dubai International Airport before leaving the country on a repatriation flight on April 4. Karim Sahib / AFP

Pakistan consul general Ahmed Ali speaks to travellers at Dubai International Airport on May 15. Courtesy: Pakistan Consulate

Mohammed Akhtar queues outside the Dnata flight centre in Deira, Dubai on June 21. He was trying to buy a ticket back home for the funeral of his son, who was killed in a car accident. Reem Mohammed / The National

Pakistanis originally required consular approval to buy tickets home, which has now been dropped. Reem Mohammed / The National

About 80,000 to 90,000 Pakistanis applied to return home, with 60,000 travelling on government-arranged flights. Reem Mohammed / The National

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Updated: June 28, 2020 05:28 PM

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