There are 173 Australian children currently stranded in India separated from their parents

Parents are pleading with the federal government to develop a plan to help reunite them with their children stranded in India. The Senate’s COVID-19 inquiry was told on Friday there are 173 unaccompanied Australian minors in India. The question is heard from parents who are desperate to be reunited with their children, staying with family in India as the nation grapples with a record-breaking virus outbreak.

Qantas does not allow children to fly unaccompanied on repatriation flights.

Harjinder’s three-year-old son has been with his grandparents in India since September 2019.

For over a year, Daisy and Dilin have not seen their five-year-old daughter, who is also with her grandparents.

The couple moved to Australia in early 2020 while their daughter was visiting her grandparents, with the pandemic and travel restrictions putting their reunion in disarray.

Many parents have been separated from their children,” Dilin said.

“I plead, on behalf of all of them, so please consider bringing in minors unaccompanied, either through repatriation flights or even private chartered flights.” Senior Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade official Lynette Wood said a flight specifically for children had not been considered.

Officials were working directly with families to sort out options, she said.

Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Barry O’Farrell, said 20 unaccompanied minors had been helped home since December. Strict limits on the number of people who can return to Australia each week have been in place during the health crisis, with a flight ban from India.

The inquiry also heard from Melbourne man Sunny, who remains stranded in Delhi with his elderly mother. Last May, he traveled to India to help care for his father, who died while Sunny was still in quarantine after landing.

Sunny and his mother have been trying to return since then.

“We stay holed in at the house and fear for our lives constantly,” he told the inquiry.

“We think it is just a matter of time before we may get infected and get into serious trouble, considering the healthcare system here is overwhelmed and almost dysfunctional.

“People are dying on the streets because of lack of oxygen. The Australian government should not abandon us in this life-threatening situation.”

On Thursday, India recorded another grim global world record with more than 412,000 new coronavirus cases and almost 4000 deaths.

There are 9,500 Australians who want to return home, including 950 considered vulnerable.

Sunny and his mother had a flight booked to return to Melbourne last year, which was delayed and ultimately canceled because of Victoria’s extended lockdown.

They were meant to return last week, but the government announced a flight ban.

The Morrison government faced widespread backlash after threatening to jail and fines for people who tried to beat the ban.

Repatriation flights will slowly restart on 15 May, but questions remain over when commercial flights will begin.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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