UAE expats stranded in Pakistan welcome flight resumptions

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Dubai: The resumption of outbound international flights from Pakistan has come as a glimmer of hope for several UAE-based expats, especially mothers stranded in the country without their little ones.

Sana Kaleem Khan who’s been away from her two-and half-year-old son since April 20 said she can’t wait to be reunited with her family in Dubai.

Sana left for her hometown of Karachi for a medical emergency, leaving behind toddler Abdullah and husband Kaleem, but then she got stuck amid coronavirus flight suspensions.

Sana Kaleem with son Abdullah. She’s been separated from the toddler since April 20
Image Credit: Supplied

“The separation is agonising. I am counting each day. It’s heartening to know that Pakistan has resumed international flights. I have applied for an entry permit and am awaiting approval,” she said.

Pakistan announced the reopening of its airspace to commercial flights on Friday.

“Both national and foreign airlines shall be allowed to operate from all international airports in Pakistan with exception of Gwadar and Turbat,” Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement, adding that flights would be allowed from May 31. UAE said stranded residents can return from June 1.

Sana’s husband Kaleem said the announcements came as a big relief. “Looking after Abdullah has been a daily struggle for me as my job requires me to be out of home for most part of the day,” he said. “He weeps inconsolably every time he speaks to Sana and keeps on asking when she will be back,” added Kaleem.

Saniya Yousaf (right) has been stranded away from her husband and three children since March 13
Image Credit: Supplied

Mother of three Saniya Yousaf who has been stranded in Karachi since March 13 said the agony of being away from her family has taken a toll on her.

“My youngest child is just 20 months old and needs me all the time,” said Saniya, who had travelled to Pakistan to see her cancer-stricken mother. “I was hoping to return within a few days but got stuck,” said the 34-year-old whose other two children are aged nine and 12.

International and local flights in Pakistan had been suspended since March with exemptions for some flights to enable international repatriation.

Starting Monday, the UAE will start receiving residence visa holders from various countries, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation (MoFAIC) and the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship (ICA).

The UAE is keen to facilitate the procedures for holders of UAE residency visas who are stuck outside the country and reunite them with their families who were affected by the precautionary measures taken by the country in light of the current exceptional circumstances to combat Covid-19,” the federal authorities were quoted by state news agency WAM.

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