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International Migration

Unprecedented Repatriation Programme: India’s Vande Bharat Mission in 2020

Published on June 16, 2021


As the Covid-19 pandemic affected one country after another, and with the imposition of travel restrictions worldwide, there was a sudden need for governments to ‘rescue’ its citizens who were stranded overseas. On this front, the Indian government was particularly proactive prior to the announcement of lockdown in India on March 24, 2020.[1] Between February and April, the Indian government embarked upon multiple missions to repatriate its citizens, starting with missions to Wuhan in February. Another ‘rescue’ mission was launched in February to bring back members stranded on the Diamond Princess cruise in Japan. In the month of March, the missions were directed to Iran and Italy, which were severely affected by the pandemic, with a rescue mission being conducted in Iran as late as March 22.