COVID-19: Egypt unveils plan to repatriate citizens stuck in Kuwait after protests

Cairo: The Egyptian government has said it will operate on Wednesday the first two flights to bring home Egyptians stranded in Kuwait due to suspension of air travel over the coronavirus outbreak after hundreds of them protested earlier this week.

The Kuwaiti Interior Ministry said it had dispersed riots Sunday at two sheltering centres by some illegal Egyptian residents who had registered for repatriation under a pardon plan announced by the Kuwaiti government.

Spokesman for the Egyptian government Nader Sa’ad estimated the total number of illegal Egyptian expatriates in Kuwait at around 31,000, saying those who had registered under the Kuwaiti pardon plan are about 5,600.

Those numbers need 32 flights, the first two of which will be operated on Wednesday, he said. Both flights will be allocated for “humanitarian cases” including women and children, the official added.

The Egyptians will be placed under quarantine upon their return home to ensure they are free of COVID-19, according to Sa’ad.

Hundreds of the Egyptians, kept for weeks inside Kuwaiti sheltering facilities, reportedly staged violent protests late Sunday, demanding Egyptian authorities to expedite their repatriation.

The Egyptian embassy called the protests “unacceptable” and expressed appreciation to Kuwaiti authorities for “proper handling” of the situation.

Kuwait arrested 30 inciters for the rioting, Kuwaiti newspaper Al Qabas reported, citing security sources.

Thousands of illegal expatriates in Kuwait have taken advantage of the pardon plan announced last month offering them exemptions from legal punishment and free home return flights as the country struggles to limit the spread of the coronavirus on its soil.

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