Coronavirus: Kiwi family stuck in India desperate for Government help

A Hawke's Bay family is distraught the Government can't get them home on charter flights from India. 

They are in the country's southeast - an area the Government has deemed too remote and dangerous to get to.

Ana Wilkinson-Gee told Newshub without help from the Government her family has little hope of getting out of the country.

"It's only with Government assistance that we would be able to get to safety - to get from our house to an airport and get to New Zealand," she said. 

"Without their help we're sitting ducks."

Wilkinson-Gee and her husband Daniel are in India running a not-for-profit sewing school aiming to give humanitarian support to the community and upskill local women.

She says the family has had their bags packed for weeks and believes it is possible to get out of the remote area they are in if the Government took more measures.

"Maybe some domestic charter flights that can get the rest of us New Zealanders who are more remote to a bigger centre so we can also get out and not get left behind."

India currently has almost 22,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the country's death toll standing at 686. 

The country gave people just fours' notice that it was going into lockdown, giving travellers little chance to get out. Hundreds of Kiwis became stuck after their flights back to New Zealand were cancelled. The nationwide lockdown was recently extended and with growing violence in the country, many fear for their safety. 

Wilkinson-Gee says her husband has been taken away to get tested twice by local authorities already, leaving just her and her children in the house waiting for him to return.

"[There's] police banging at your door at 11:30 at night to take your husband away, it's a bit scary to be left alone - I'm really concerned about that happening again."

Despite her concerns for her family,  Wilkinson-Gee says she also realises there is pressure on the local community and authorities.

"It's not just stressful for us having to stay indoors...but for our community that's around us it's a nervous time for them. And also for local authorities, because we're also a burden on them, for them to look after us."

She said she appreciated efforts up to now by both the Indian and New Zealand governments to keep them safe and get them out.

"We understand as well that this is a huge undertaking for the governments together to be working together and trying to move New Zealanders out - what a huge operation, so we really appreciate that it's a huge task."

Three Air New Zealand charter flights are taking off from New Delhi this week, with the first leaving today, but Wilkinson-Gee says families like hers, who are stuck in remote parts of the country, have been left behind.

Those who have managed to get onboard will have to pay $5500 per person.

Earlier this month the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said 1250 New Zealanders had expressed interest in the flights, from a total of 1922 Kiwis registered as being in India, according to RNZ.

The ministry said the majority of those people were centred around New Delhi and Mumbai, where the three flights leave from. It said it was aware of New Zealanders in other parts of the country and was working on other options for them.

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