Australia to resume India repatriation flights after backlash

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After facing severe criticism for failing to help citizens trapped because of the travel ban
against Covid-ravaged India, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrisonsparked sparked further
anger after the government said Australians seeking to fly home could face jail or fines. Mr
Morrison later stepped back from his threat. On Friday, he said they would begin by bringing
back "vulnerable" citizens.About 900 Australians are registered with the government in this
group. More than 9,000 Australians are in India in total.Mr Morrison said he expects the travel
ban to end on 15 May. However, his government will wait until next week to make a decision
on whether to restart commercial flights from India, which is how most stranded Australians will
be able to get home.Even then, many fear they may find it difficult to secure a seat on a flight,
or afford the costly fares. On Friday, Mr Morrison said the ban had worked to reduce the
number of cases in quarantine "back to more manageable levels [We] will be at a level by 15
May to ensure that, as planned, we will be able to return to having those repatriation flights
from India."Earlier, the government faced serve backlash faced as critics - including legal and
medical experts - accused the government of abandoning its people.Many Indian-Australians,
among others, also argued the government had enacted a "racist" policy given similarly harsh
restrictions weren't applied to arrivals from other high-risk nations.Joining the backlash was
one prominent voice, cricketer-turned-commentator Michael Slater, wrote a popular tweet
accusing the prime minister of having "blood on your hands"."Take your private jet and come
and witness dead bodies on the street," Slater wrote in another tweet.He was one of about 40
Australians in India for the Indian Premier League cricket competition which was suspended
this week.

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