Turkey to return 25,000 expats for Ramadan amid virus
Turkey is set to bring back about 25,000 citizens from 59 countries for the holy month of Ramadan, Vice President Fuat Oktay has announced.
“With the orders of our President, we launched a large-scale operation to bring back about 25,000 of our citizens from 59 countries for them to spend the month of Ramadan and the holiday with their families,” Oktay said in a tweet.
The vice president added that the foreign, interior, transportation and infrastructure, health, and youth and sports ministries, along with governor’s offices, are working together to bring back the citizens abroad.
The returnees will be quarantined subsequently.
Oktay also said that up until now, some 25,000 citizens have been brought back to Turkey from across the world.
“Our aim is for our citizens to hopefully hug their families dearly during the holy Eid al-Fitr,” he said.
“Our nation is determined; our state is strong and decisive. This nation will win this difficult struggle together, through fraternity and solidarity, like it did many times during [its] history,” Oktay added.
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, is a time when Muslims abstain from food and drink from the “sahur” meal (the meal before dawn) to the “iftar” meal at sunset.
The starting day of Ramadan may differ in several countries according to the methods used to determine the time the new crescent moon is sighted. This year, Ramadan is due to start on April 24 in Turkey.
The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday marks the end of the Ramadan.
The passengers arrived at the capital Ankara’s Esenboğa Airport and have been transferred to the Central Anatolian province of Çankırı on buses, accompanied by police teams.
The returnees were settled in student dorms after their temperatures were checked. The police teams have taken security measures around the dormitories while the provincial municipality dispatched teams to disinfect the buses.
Turkish Ambassador to London Ümit Yalçın told Anadolu Agency that around 1,000 Turkish citizens were flown back to Turkey on March 24, a week after all flights to Turkey were grounded due to the coronavirus outbreak worldwide.
Underlining that the latest special flight was arranged at the directives of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Yalçın said the flight will make it possible for Turkish citizens to spend the holy month of Ramadan at home.
Yalçın said students, tourists, businessmen, lorry drivers and workers who had temporary visa to remain in the U.K. but applied to the embassy to be able to go back to Turkey for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan are being repatriated.
“Our London embassy and Edinburgh chief consulate are working non-stop on this organization in cooperation with Turkish Airlines,” he added.