India is Friday expected to start flying back hundreds of Kenyans who have been stranded in its cities following grounding of passenger planes in the awake of Covid-19 pandemic.
A statement its Nairobi-based High Commission released said the operation dubbed Vande Bharat Mission will bring home Kenyans who had gone to India, including students attending short-term courses.
The mission will also see 234 Indian nationals who are “stranded” in Kenya repatriated by Air India via Mumbai International Airport from where they can get to their villages by air, train or bus, the statement added.
“The government of India, under its Vande Bharat Mission, has reached out to stranded and distressed Indians in different parts of the world to facilitate their return.
“In its first phase 13,750 Indians have returned to India from 12 countries in 64 repatriation flights,” it said.
The Vande Bharat Mission II that comes months after India restored Nairobi-Mumbai direct flights expects to fly home 59,000 Indians via planned 311 flights from Africa, the Middle East, CIS, Europe, East Europe, South East Asia, South Asia, East Asia, UK, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, US and Canada.
The mission will run until June 17.
India remains a favourite destination for Kenyan students, traders and patients who fly to Asian sub-continent for specialised treatment, spending at least Sh10 billion annually.
Thanks to the colonial railway construction that was largely done by Indian workers, Kenya is home to about one million Kenyans of Indian origin that control major stakes in key sectors including manufacturing, banking, insurance, hospitality and vehicle assembly.
Last year, Kenya hosted 102,600 tourists from India visiting Kenya for leisure and business.