Sunday, Aug 14, 2022

90,000 Indians Evacuated From War Zones, Natural Disasters Abroad In Last Few Years: MEA

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Around 90,000 Indian nationals have been evacuated from foreign conflict zones, countries affected by natural disasters and other challenging situations in the last few years, a senior MEA official today said.

Secretary (Consular, Passport, Visa and Overseas Indian Affairs) in the Ministry of External Affairs Dnyaneshwar M Mulay, said, the evacuation of these people were carried under the aegis of the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF).

"Our (MEA's) dictum is pro-people and people-centric policies with a larger motto of 'Sarvajanhitay, Sarvajansukhaiy' (benefit for all, welfare for all). And, part of that rubric is ICWF.

"We don't want to see any Indian suffering in distress abroad. And, under the ICWF we have evacuated about 90,000 people in the last few years, and safely brought them back, from various conflict zones, or places hit by natural disasters or other challenging situations," Mulay said on the sidelines of an event.

Set up in 2009, the ICWF is aimed at assisting overseas Indian nationals in times of distress and emergency and stands extended to all Indian missions and posts abroad.

Funds under this scheme can be used to assist only Indian citizens residing in the host country or those in distress while visiting a foreign country.

Persons of Indian origin and Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card holders are not eligible for individual financial assistance from the ICWF, according to the MEA website.

Mulay today received an award at the second edition of Kalam Innovations in Governance Awards, among other bureaucrats, the ceremony for which was held at the Vigyan Bhawan here.

In his address during the event, the senior MEA official emphasised the government's goals of making passport delivery, simpler, and more efficient and transparent.

"By March 2018, 251 new passport kendras would become functional. Also, we have set up a target that no person has to travel more than a radius of 50 km to get a passport," he said.

Also, a new post-office passport seva kendra (POPSK) was inaugurated yesterday in the port city of Karaikal in Puducherry.

The MEA has collaborated with the Department of Posts to set up these post-office passport seva kendra in head post- offices across the country in order to provide passport- related services on a larger scale.