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Stories from the worldwide repatriation operation

Yoga in the Embassy garden

Repatriation operation in India: There was a bit of a party mood in the Embassy garden, © Meike Blecker

08.05.2020 - Article

Colleagues from Germany and around the world, as well as a traveller, tell us of their experiences during the repatriation operation.

The repatriation operation required an extraordinary effort on the part of the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin and of our missions across the globe. Although patience was needed in some cases due to the difficult circumstances, eventually around 240,000 people were able to return to Germany. Finally, a traveller talks about her experience.

Stranded in India

Meike is 27 years old and works as a psychologist and yoga teacher. She flew back to Germany from India on a Federal Foreign Office charter flight as part of the repatriation operation.

Meike (while still in India)
Meike (while still in India)© Meike Blecker

“I was travelling in Nepal and India in February and March and was taken by surprise by the COVID‑19 pandemic there. Fortunately, I was in a yoga centre near Rishikesh in northern India when stricter restrictions to public life were imposed in India, where I felt welcome.

Originally, I wanted to travel back to Europe from Nepal on 23 March. However, that was impossible as Nepal had already placed an entry ban on German citizens in mid-March. At that time, I was still in India and would have had to return to Nepal for my return flight. Initially, it didn’t seem to be a problem to rebook my return flight and travel home from India. However, then the situation in India changed very quickly. A regular departure from India was no longer possible as all international flights had been banned.

I therefore registered for the repatriation operation on 20 March. All in all, I’m incredibly happy and grateful that I was able to return to Germany the week after.

I was especially impressed by how much time the staff at the German Embassy in New Delhi spent patiently answering my questions and the understanding they showed. Of course, the situation on the ground was in flux and it wasn’t always easy to get the latest information. For example, it was not clear at first how it would be possible to travel to the airport in the blanket lockdown in place in the country. However, I always felt that the staff were doing everything in their power to enable us to fly home.

The afternoon before the flight home in the garden of the German Embassy in New Delhi was definitely a highlight. There was almost a festival atmosphere. I think that many of us were grateful to be able to simply catch our breath for a few moments following these dramatic days and to digest our impressions by talking to other travellers.

I self-isolated at my parents’ house in the country when I got back to Germany, where I enjoyed the peace and quiet and gradually adjusted to the new situation in Germany.”

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