Thiruvananthapuram: According to a popular adage in Malayalam, there is no spot on the globe sans the footprints of a Keralite. Making it almost accurate, the number of countries from where Keralites have registered for evacuation following the lockdown is as big as 207. These range from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a second home to many Keralites, to Niue, a small island nation in the South Pacific Ocean.
More than four lakh Keralites (4,42,238) stranded in other states or outside the country since a nationwide lockdown was announced in India on March 24 have registered themselves on the online portal of NORKA (Non-Resident Keralite Affairs). Of these, 3,98,082 are non-resident Keralites (NRK) who are outside the country.
With the government planning to rescue all stranded citizens, the NORKA portal (www.registernorkaroots.org) has allowed non-resident Keralites to register themselves from the last week of April.
As the Centre comes out with a plan to evacuate citizens in the six Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) countries (UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman), figures provided by NORKA reveal that of the Non-Resident Keralites (NRKs) who have registered themselves, over 80,000 are in the most important categories. While over 60,000 have lost their jobs, nearly 10,000 are pregnant women.
The maximum number in the 4,42,238 people who registered till Wednesday morning is from UAE with 1,96,039. Among the other Gulf Countries, Saudi Arabia has 61,786, Qatar has 47,487, Kuwait 28,389 and Oman has 26,026 Keralites who wish to return.
The number of those who want to come back from the United Kingdom is just 2,727 while that from the United States is 2,673. The number of those from Russia is 1,396, while Australia, Canada, Germany and France is 1031,789, 294 and 179 respectively.
There are at least 23 countries where only one person each has applied online. This includes Cook Islands, El Salvador, Vatican, Venezuela and Syria.
Curiously, 44,155 Keralites from other Indian states have also registered with the portal.
According to the state government, NORKA had shared the details of the registrants with the Union Ministry of External Affairs as well as the embassies.
In the earlier phase of the coronavirus outbreak, India had operated several special flights to facilitate the evacuation of Indians stranded in various countries, including China, Italy and Iran.
However, once the cases started increasing rapidly in the country, the Centre announced a lockdown on March 24 and stopped all the international flights on March 22.