COVID-19: As visas expire and money runs out, jobseekers want to return home

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With little or no funds on them, they claim they are living off the generosity of others

DUBAI: Several people who were visiting the UAE but now have to stay back due to flight suspensions are desperate to return to their home countries as they claim they are running out of money.

Many of these visitors who came here to seek employment say they want to return home as they are living off the generosity of Good Samaritans with little or no money left on them.

Shahanad Pulukkool, 26, a driver from Kannoor district of Kerala, whose visit visa expired on April 1 , said he is staying with four others in a one-bedroom apartment in Hor Al Anz. “My brother is leasing the apartment. Owing to the unusual situation we are all in, four others have joined us in the apartment. My brother who works as a driver is taking care of us.”

Pulukkool said he came here looking for a job as a driver, but to no avail. “I just want to go home now. I don’t want to be a burden on my brother.”

Shaukat Ali, 29, also from Kannoor district in Kerala, who lives with Pulukkool and his brother. Ali, said, “I was shortlisted for a job but unfortunately due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the company said they have put hiring on hold. My visa expires May end but I see no point in staying here. I am embarrassed to live off someone and want to go back.”

The same is the case with Mahesh Purwa, 30, who is worried about his situation. His visit visa expired on March 30 and he was scheduled to fly out of the UAE on March 25. “I heard the overstay fines will be waived off, but I would rather be back in my home country now.”

Purwa is staying with a friend, but he says he does not want to be a burden on him for long. “I hope there is a resolution soon for stranded visit visa holders in the UAE.”

Musaddique M, 27, also from Kerala, India, said he wants to return home as he sees no point waiting around looking for a job. “With the sterilisation drive in place, there is no way I can get out of the house, leave alone find a job. Ramadan is coming up too and I don’t think there will be any job placements happening in the near future. I just want the flights to re-start and head home.”

According to travel agents and social workers, there are several more such stranded visitors in the UAE.

Ibrahim Khaleel Arimala of Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre (KMCC) said social workers have been helping some people in need, especially with food and personal supplies.

Arimala, the community group’s chairman, said the Dubai KMCC helpdesk receives many calls for help everyday.

“Our volunteers have been helping these people as much as possible. They came to the UAE with hopes for a job. It was just bad timing. There is an urgent need to send these people home as currently they feel stuck here.”

Saifuddin Chappan of Travel House said the company is also receiving calls every day from people asking when the rules will change. “We are dealing with at least 50 customers now whose visas have expired.”

For Faizal Mohsin, managing director, Deenar Travel & Tourism, the numbers are more. “We have 150 customers whose visit visas have expired. None of them want to renew their stay. All they want is to go back home.”

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