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Grand repatriation plan for Kuwaitis begins April 19: PM

KUWAIT: His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah chairs the Cabinet’s meeting on Monday. – KUNA

KUWAIT: His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah said Monday that the grand repatriation plan for Kuwaiti nationals abroad will begin on Sunday April 19. This plan will be carried out under the directives set by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and hopefully it will achieve its goal to bring citizens back home by the Holy Month of Ramadan, indicated His Highness the Prime Minister.

Speaking at a lengthy news conference, His Highness the Prime Minister said he is following up round the clock on the hard work of specialized teams tasked with taking measures against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). “There are 16 of such committees and many other teams,” he revealed. Underscoring personal concern on part of His Highness the Amir and top leaders about conditions of the citizens, particularly those abroad amid the coronavirus crisis, he stated, “Our determination is grand to overcome the plight … and we have abundant medical and food stockpiles.”

Elaborating, His Highness the Prime Minister has said that he is in regular contact with the concerned ministers to resolve any emerging obstacles or issues. “We are all working hard to (resolve the issues),” he stressed. His Highness the Prime Minister has affirmed that the government is addressing issues concerning 50,000 Kuwaiti citizens in various countries across the world.

“This subject is a priority for us, and we have been engaged in lengthy discussions to try reach the best solutions while preserving the health system in the country,” he stated. He declared that following these lengthy discussions among the concerned officials, the government has adopted the plan for repatriating the citizens abroad — execution of which will begin on April 19.

Three groups
Meanwhile, Minister of Health Sheikh Basel Al-Sabah who spoke after the premier said the repatriated Kuwaitis would be divided into three groups, affirming that the phased process would begin on April 19 and conclude on May 7 — lasting for 19 days. He affirmed that the returning citizens would be subject to standard medical procedures against pandemics, such as measuring their temperature and conducting swab tests, before being subjected to either institutionalize or house quarantines.

The first batch of the repatriates will include those who need mobile beds and life support equipment, he added, re-appealing to families of the returnees to adhere literally to the authorities’ instructions and abstain from emotional interaction with their loved ones upon their return.

Taking his turn at the news conference, Foreign Minister Sheikh Dr Ahmad Nasser Al-Mohammad Al-Sabah declared that the operation would be the largest evacuation of Kuwaitis from abroad since 1991 after Kuwait was liberated of the Iraqi occupation. “So far, 35,000 Kuwaitis abroad desiring to return have registered required data on ‘Ma’akom’ website,” the foreign minister said. He explained that in the first phase of the operation (April 19-April 21), Kuwaitis would be flown back from GCC countries, Egypt and Turkey.

April 22 would be dedicated for preparing and equipping by the involved teams, he said. On April 23, flights will resume to bring back Kuwaitis who need beds and life support equipment. April 24 will be also dedicated for preparations and equipping. From April 25 till the next month, the full-scale operation will be completed, bringing back citizens from more than 101 “points” throughout the world, the minister added.

Responding to a question about destiny and status of the Kuwaiti diplomats abroad, he indicated that they would come back after making sure that all Kuwaitis who wanted to leave were flown back home. Moreover, he disclosed that more than 17,000 Kuwaiti students studying abroad have posted their data on ‘Ma’akom’ website, however he clarified that their return is not mandatory and that each student could freely take the decision to stay or leave. He affirmed that more expatriates who breached residency law in Kuwait would fly back home, simultaneously with the flights bringing back the Kuwaitis from abroad.

Cabinet approves plan
The Cabinet, at an extraordinary session on Monday, adopted a phased process to bring back Kuwaiti citizens abroad who have remained there amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis. The ministers, during the session, followed up on efforts for combating the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and adopted the plan to bring back home Kuwaiti citizens from all corners of the world, said Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Interior and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Anas Al-Saleh in a statement after the special meeting.

The session kick-started with Minister of Health and head of a team tasked with following up on the coronavirus developments briefing the ministers about latest information about the pandemic, including data and statistics included in reports of the World Health Organization. The ministers were also briefed by the Foreign Minister, who along the minister of health, presented details about the planned operation.

Later in the session, Minister of Oil, Electricity and Water Khaled Al-Fadhel briefed the minsters about the recent agreement by OPEC and non-OPEC oil producing states to slash crude production by less than 10 million barrels per day. The ministers lauded the deal that would stabilize the markets and back the global economy in the current extraordinary circumstances. Moreover, the cabinet lauded designation of Mustafa Al-Kadehmi to form a new government in Iraq, hoping the move would lead to attaining the people aspirations. – KUNA

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