19 July 2024

“Safely stay where you are for now” advice to Kiwis in India

New Zealanders stranded in India may have to wait a little longer before they can return home and currently there is no window of opportunity in sight.

In the absence of any commercial flights and strict enforcement of curfew in India, the New Zealand government’s advice is, therefore, to stay put for now.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT), however, have assured NewsViews of continuing their efforts and exploring various options to bring New Zealanders back home.

Read our earlier story here: newsviews.co.nz/abandoned-kiwis-stuck-in-india-seek-govt-action-now/

In an exclusive statement to NewsViews this afternoon, a spokesperson for MFAT has outlined the challenges thrown up by the current strict border steps taken by India, including cancellation of flights.

“Like many countries around the world, India has implemented strict border measures which mean that there are currently no commercial flights operating.

“The lockdown, which is scheduled to lift on 14 April, has meant that New Zealanders there have been asked to safely stay where they are and shelter in place until opportunities to leave become available,” the MFAT spokesperson said.

MFAT believes that safety of stranded Kiwis is to stay put where they are, and appears to be in line with the views of the Foreign Minister, Winston Peters who a few weeks backs said “…the best option for most New Zealanders offshore is to shelter in place, by preparing to safely stay where they are also.”

The Spokesperson for MFAT, however, shares the concerns of those who are stuck

“We understand how upsetting it is for anyone stranded far from home, and the stresses that these people and their family and friends are facing. Although it is increasingly difficult to return to New Zealand, the Government is doing what it can to help our people overseas. 

“We will continue to look at options to help New Zealanders return home, working closely with other partners like Australia.  We will also continue to provide consular advice and assistance to New Zealanders wherever they find themselves during this pandemic crisis.”

National MP for Hamilton East, David Bennett also has been in touch with some of the stranded Kiwis back in New Delhi.

This was confirmed when NewsViews approached the National MP today to seek his comments.

Expressing his empathy, Bennett was of the view that in the current difficult scenario, probably the best option was to wait safely until the flights are resumed.

David Bennett
David Bennett

“I personally believe that instead of awaiting evacuation by the government-which appears to be difficult due to several constraints, they should wait for curfew to be relaxed and resumption of commercial flights.

“As Air New Zealand does not have any direct flights to India, the best approach for Kiwis, therefore, would be to reach a near-by destination, for example, Dubai, from where they may get a direct connecting flight to Auckland.”

This was, however, his personal view, Bennett emphasised.

NewsViews is also aware that the Hamilton couple, John and Jo Davidson, who are among the hundreds stuck in various parts of India, have moved to another accommodation with consular assistance after they were forced to vacate their hotel.

NewsViews has also approached the Indian High Commission in Wellington to seek their comments that are still awaited.

MFAT also confirmed that the New Zealand High Commission in New Delhi regularly updates New Zealanders in India who have registered on Safe Travel.

“We strongly encourage all New Zealanders currently overseas to register on SafeTravel: https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/register-your-travel and keep checking the SafeTravel website for information.”

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