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Canada More than 15,000 Canadian citizens stranded in India, including Liberal MP's mom

00:45  25 march  2020
00:45  25 march  2020 Source:   cbc.ca

6 flights set to repatriate Canadians stuck in India due to COVID-19

  6 flights set to repatriate Canadians stuck in India due to COVID-19 The first of six flights to repatriate some of the 15,000 Canadian passport-holders stranded in India due to the COVID-19 pandemic is scheduled to leave Delhi on Saturday. The cost per ticket is estimated at $2,900, available on a first-come, first-served basis, according to an email from Global Affairs Canada.

Nine of the 10 countries on the list were from Asia, the Middle East or Africa. At number 10 was the United States, the only Western country to be included .

More than 700 eminent Indian personalities, including jurists, lawyers, academics and actors, have signed a statement "categorically" condemning the bill. Prominent Muslim MP Asaddudin Owaisi said it was "worse than Hitler' s laws and a conspiracy to make Muslims stateless".

A man with a protective mask walks on a deserted road, amid a nationwide lockdown over highly contagious novel coronavirus on Tuesday in New Delhi. © Yawar Nazir/Getty Images A man with a protective mask walks on a deserted road, amid a nationwide lockdown over highly contagious novel coronavirus on Tuesday in New Delhi.

More than 15,000 Canadian passport holders have registered with the Foreign Affairs Department as being stranded in India, and as of Tuesday the federal government has no repatriation flights scheduled.

India has closed its airspace and imposed a 21-day lockdown, preventing people from leaving their homes. The new measures come after a spike in cases in recent days. Those who are stuck say the restrictions make it impossible for them to get to the airports in New Delhi and Mumbai.

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India — Protected Area Permit (PAP) required for all of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and parts of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and In the absence of specific bilateral agreements, countries requiring passports to be valid for at least 6 more months on arrival include Afghanistan, Algeria

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"We're frustrated, because we hear how the Canadian government is doing everything they can to get Canadians back, and I can tell you that that is not the case right now," Ottawa resident Debbie Lavigne said Tuesday.

The federal government said Foreign Affairs Minister François-Philippe Champagne has been in touch with the Indian government and is working to bring people home, but the details of what is being done aren't known.

The 15,000 number does not account for citizens who have not registered or who are permanent residents — it is estimated there could be thousands more who are trying to return.

Lavigne, who is in Goa, India, said she and her daughter have been calling the Canadian Embassy in New Delhi non-stop and sending emails to Canada's emergency watch and response centre — at sos@international.gc.ca — but have received no answers.

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There are numerous health risks, including higher risks of diabetes, heart disease and even certain types of cancer. Pregnant women that are obese may suffer from complications that can lead to health problems Obesity isn’t just limited to one part of the world. Nations everywhere have obese citizens .

"We actually managed to get a live person, and they advised us to follow tweets and the news. We just need to be reassured to know that somebody is looking out for us," she said.

Canadians flock to India in the spring

Spring is a time when thousands of Canadians head to India to visit family and friends, often staying for a month at a time and most typically in the Punjab region. Many of them are also elderly, and families at home are concerned about their health.

Ravi Gill, who is working tirelessly with a group of people in Surrey, B.C., to bring people home, said a lot of the older folks are insulin-dependent or on other medications but don't have enough supplies beyond their planned return dates.

"They're pretty much snowbirds. Other people go to Arizona, Florida, but a lot of people in our community go to India. It's difficult for our government to make choices, but we're asking them to help," Gill said.

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More than half of Canadians live in just two provinces: Ontario Virtually every major world religion, faith, or denomination has a significant number of members in Canada , including Christianity, Islam Canada is known for its universal healthcare system and generally taking care of its citizens , which is

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Gill is trying to lobby the government to do more, but every day he's growing more frustrated. He questions why repatriation flights have been sent in to other countries with far fewer Canadians stranded, but those in India have been left behind.

"There are young children in our family who are also stuck in India and are terrified at being locked into homes," he said.

"They have witnessed police using sticks and pulling people off scooters to force them back home. This is a very traumatic experience for them."

He's collecting names and information and has started this Facebook page for people seeking help. Canadians are also advised to register with Foreign Affairs.

Surrey MP's mom also stranded

Surrey-Newton Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal's 80-year-old mother is among those stranded in India. Dhaliwal said he, too, is putting pressure on Champagne, but he doesn't believe it will be easy to bring Canadians home any time soon.

"Because India has shut down the airfield, we are trying to get an access to the airfield, and also the prime minister has talked to the CEO of both airlines, Air Canada as well as WestJet."

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a man smiling for the camera: Surrey-Newton Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal's 80-year-old mother is among those stranded in India. © James Mulleder/CBC Surrey-Newton Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal's 80-year-old mother is among those stranded in India.

Dhaliwal said those who are stuck may need to be patient and wait it out.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it clear the total country lockdown will be enforced.

"To save India, to save its every citizen, you, your family … every street, every neighbourhood is being put under lockdown. We will have to pay the economic cost of this, but [it] is the responsibility of everyone."

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.

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