Two exceptional flights reportedly took off from Cairo International Airport earlier today to evacuate Egyptians stranded in Kuwait since the suspension of air travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Youm7 reports. The flights, operated by EgyptAir, are set to return tonight.
A number of Egyptian non-residents in Kuwait have been detained in 11 shelters, according to Masrawy. These centers were established by the GCC country to lodge Egyptian expatriates overstaying their visas in Kuwait due to the suspension of air travel as part of the preventive measures enacted to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Members of the Egyptian community have been held in these shelters for almost a month despite the Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior’s decision last March to waive visa overstay penalties and cover airfares to repatriate non-residents staying in Kuwait illegally.
The Egyptian government is currently working on evacuating 5300 Egyptian citizens from Kuwait, as well as an undisclosed number of Egyptian citizens from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. According to a Facebook statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Emigration, 600 Egyptians will be returning from Kuwait today. This is part of an effort by the government to repatriate Egyptian citizens stranded abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic before Eid Al Fitr, Minister of Emigration Nabila Makram said during a press conference today, Youm7 reports.
This comes following violent clashes with Kuwaiti police after dozens of Egyptians protested their government’s slow response to their plight, demanding their immediate return to Egypt. According to BBC, Kuwaiti security forces fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.
3500 Egyptians, mostly students and temporary visitors, have already returned to Egypt or are in the process of being repatriated, according to the Ministry of Emigration.
Earlier today, the Egyptian Cabinet released a Facebook statement vowing to waive quarantine fees for returning Egyptians who will be staying at university campuses and dormitories, which have been temporarily repurposed to accommodate returnees for 14 days, the mandatory quarantine period.