Indian embassy steps in to aid students told to leave US campuses

age correspondent  | Sridhar Kumaraswami

India, All India

Conversely, flights being arranged to evacuate Americans stranded in Indian

Aesha Patel (right) and her roommate Letitia Klos, both students at Boston University Dental School, read in the Public Garden in Boston on March 27, 2020. The students are currently taking their courses online because all campuses are closed due to the coronavirus. (AP)

New Delhi: The Indian Embassy in the US is partnering with the Indian community there to provide temporary refuge to Indians students of American universities who have been asked to vacate their campus accommodation.

At the same time, the United States has approached the Indian government for permission to operate evacuation flights by American or foreign carriers to ferry thousands of stranded Americans back to the US. The US said the process is “complicated” but is confident the evacuation flights will begin in about three days.

Following the surge in COVID-19 case in the US, universities there have shut down on-campus operations and moves classes online. The Indian embassy has stepped in to provide information on temporary emergency resources to aid Indian students thus dislocated.

In an advisory, the Indian Embassy told these students, “If you are staying on-campus and are asked to vacate, check with your university about retaining on-campus housing. If your petition is not accepted, consult with your university and/or with your network on how to find alternate accommodations. If your university or program is shutting down on-campus services, check with your university or program on how to avail your university’s health services, student health insurance, international student services, and any other essential service(s) that may be impacted.”

The Embassy of India said it would update information for stranded students as soon as commercial flights to India resume.

“This is an unprecedented situation, but we can successfully manage it by making decisions with a calm mind,” it added.

As for the converse case of US nationals stranded in India, a US State Department official said in Washington, “We’re looking at 1,500 or so people in the New Delhi area who have identified themselves. We’re looking at ... probably 600-700 people in the Mumbai area ... and 300-400 elsewhere in India who have identified themselves. ... There is a church group that has chartered a large aircraft. We are facilitating the necessary permits for that aircraft. They’re ready to take out 150 or so Americans. We are working directly with both US and foreign carriers to lay on aircraft direct from India to the US.”

The official added, “The permitting is what’s complicated at the moment ... that takes a while both in India and the US. ... We are hopeful that those flights will begin ... within about three days or so.”