Maldives on Tuesday repatriated 200 more Bangladeshi nationals, as part of the government's repatriation efforts amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the National Emergency Operation Centre (NEOC)'s daily virtual press conference, Communications Undersecretary at the President's Office Mabrouq Abdul Azeez disclosed that the latest group to be repatriated comprised of undocumented workers.
Organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Economic Development, they were flown to Bangladeshi capital Dhaka via the national carrier, Maldivian, on Tuesday afternoon.
Mabrouq noted that with this development, total 1,593 undocumented and 342 registered Bangladeshi workers have been repatriated from Maldives.
More repatriation flights will be arranged in the future, as per the foreign ministry.
Several foreign citizens, including tourists and expatriate workers, were stranded in Maldives when the government stopped issuing on-arrival-visas and closed its borders on March 27, in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19. Since then, the authorities as well as several foreign missions in Maldives have been working to arrange chartered flights for repatriation.
The COVID-19 outbreak in the Maldives’ capital has disproportionately affected its migrant worker population, the majority of whom are Bangladeshi nationals living in highly congested quarters where it is impossible to reduce contact or exercise social distancing. Their often small-spaced living conditions have been described by local and international civil society organizations as, "claustrophobic", "unsanitary" and "overcrowded".
In a move to contain the spread of the coronavirus, in particular within congested labour quarters, the administration has mobilised efforts to transfer expatriate workers to safer environments, including temporary shelters in Hulhumale', Thilafushi and Gulhifalhu.
Presently, Maldives records 1,841 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 1,226 active cases, 608 recoveries and seven fatalities.
The World Health Organization has classified the spread of COVID-19 as a global pandemic. The new strain of novel coronavirus has infected over 6.4 million people and claimed over 379,500 lives around the world. However, 2.9 million people have recovered from the infection.