India news: Stranded Britons at risk of ‘starving on streets’ if UK fails to send flights | World | News

Lucy Baldwin, a British tourist stuck in Kerala, India, told BBC News that she is worried some of the people she has been in contact with who are stuck in the country are running out of money and will be unable to sustain themselves for food and accommodation. While complimenting the Kerala state for its organisation and humanitarian offers of help to stranded tourists, she warned the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has failed to provide clear information on how to safely return home and respect coronavirus measures.

She said: “The main worry for us here is what if tourists start running out of money?

“In Kerala, they’ve been wonderful, it’s world-class how they’ve managed this. I’ve been so impressed and we all have.

“So much better than I think many, many western nations.

“But we are well aware that we are relying on the humanitarian hearts of the local people that care for us. Police are going around offering free food, free accommodation. It’s been incredibly lucky for us here.

Food market

Britons are relying on the generosity and kindness of locals (Image: Getty)

“But some tourists, some of them are young, they’re going to start running out of money and then what’s going to happen?

“Britons are going to be starving on the streets while the Government doesn’t bring them home?

“And there is no information. The guidelines we need to follow are so complex and they change daily.

“I’ve been running a WhatsApp group as an admin and it’s been five weeks of just nightmare getting burned out trying to keep track of all these changes.

“It would have been wonderful if perhaps the FCO had stopped making so many videos and actually told us in each state what the actual guidelines are.”

On Thursday, the FCO announced that more than 3,600 Britons stranded in India will be brought home in 14 flights starting on Tuesday.

Amid huge demand for repatriation and heavy restrictions on travel, the new charters bring the total number of repatriation flights from India up to 52.

With the new flights, more than 13,000 people will have been flown back from India by the UK Government in response to the global coronavirus outbreak.

Lucy Baldwin, a British tourist stuck in Kerala

Lucy Baldwin, a British tourist stuck in Kerala (Image: BBC)

Flights will depart from the northwestern city of Amritsar each day between April 28 and May 4, with two flights leaving on May 2.

Five flights will leave Ahmedabad during the same period, and there will be one flight chartered from Delhi on April 30.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Travel to and from India is severely restricted and so we have organised a series of charter flights.

“Through these 52 UK charter flights, we will have brought back 13,000 people and our staff in India will continue to support all those UK nationals who need our help.”

Seats on the flights are available to British nationals and their dependants who have already registered with the Government’s online booking portal.

Those who are eligible to fly will be sent travel information when their seat is confirmed.

Lord Ahmad, the Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, said: “We have already helped over 6,500 people return from India since we began our charter flight programme, with a further 7,000 due to return in the coming weeks.

“We are continuing to work around the clock to ensure all British travellers in India are supported to come back to the UK if they wish.”

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab

(Image: Getty)

In response to the pandemic, the Government launched a £75 million scheme to organise flights from countries where commercial services have been halted.

More than 13,200 people have returned to the UK on 63 Foreign and Commonwealth Office-chartered flights from 18 different countries or territories.

Over 1,700 Britons have returned from South Africa and more than 1,200 people have been flown back from Peru.

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