By mauriciohawk in Beaches Posted September 1, 2020 Tags
A British mother stranded in India fears her children will go hungry during the country’s strict coronavirus lockdown as they plead with authorities to fly them home.
Gabrielle Marshall, her husband and their four children have been living in Patnem, Goa, for six months after taking them out of school for a year.
But after President Narendra Modi banned people from leaving their homes with just four hours’ notice on March 23 and grounded all domestic and international flights, they are running out food and clean water and are desperate to get back to the UK.
Mrs Marshall told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘This past week has been incredibly stressful.
I’m extremely anxious, not sleeping.’
She claimed that police are beating people for being outside and the few supermarkets still open are mobbed with crowds of people with no social distancing.
The mother-of-four is terrified of her family catching the virus and fears the death toll could be worse than Italy.
‘Hunger is more pressing compared to the fear of the virus for many.
We need to be repatriated, and urgently, while we still have a window.’
The Marshall family originally planned to travel north to see other parts of India, but now they just want to go home.
She told the Today programme: ‘It’s the concern of getting food.
Initially we were told we could get food from shops, but now the shops are closed.
‘There were reports of police beating people for being outside.
‘The food is beginning to get through after getting stuck at the border, but we’re scared to go out and get it over fears of police brutality.
‘When you do go to large shops, you’ve got 60 people outside one shop with very little sign of social distancing, which is a really worry in terms of health.’
Police are pictured wearing facemasks in Goa, where British mother Gabrielle Marshall is stuck with her family
Crowds are pictured inside Goa Airport in south India on March 15 before the country was put on lockdown with just four hours’ notice
She added that clean drinking water is becoming very scarce, saying bottles in shops are almost impossible to find and they are unable to filter tap water properly.
There are 1,251 reported cases of coronavirus in India and 32 deaths from the infection.
But with reporting difficulties and migrant workers spreading the virus from urban areas to more rural parts, the actual figures are believed to be much higher.
Mrs Marshall said: ‘If you look at what’s happening in Italy, with a population over 1.3billion, the numbers here are going to be more like 1million.
‘Our concerns really are health – if we get sick – How many beaches are in south Goa are we going to get help, with such a low ratio of doctors to people.’
Their other worry is how they’re going to get back to the UK.
She added: ‘They [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] have been saying for two weeks now that they’re working on it.
‘What the hell does ‘working on it mean’.
Why is there this problem with picking up the British people?
British tourist Kate Fielder (pictured on Good Morning Britain via video link on Tuesday) is also stranded in Goa
‘I have friends that left on the German flight, next it’s the Poles.
‘It would be really helpful for our state of mind to know what they’re doing and when they’re going to do it.
‘I know of four people who think they might have the virus in this area.
‘There’s no testing.
The numbers are just going to get bigger and bigger.
‘Getting enough food is not a problem the west have to deal with. Yes they have coronavirus but they don’t have to worry about starvation.
‘We have a humanitarian crisis on our doorstep. The British Government benefited hugely from the Raj financially and needs to start paying India back.’
There are thousands of Britons currently stranded abroad amid the global coronavirus crisis.
Kate Fielder is also stuck in Goa and told Good Morning Britain today: ‘The Russians, the Poles, the Germans, the Italians and the Israelis ahve all been repatriated.
‘All the meanwhile, I’ve just heard a load of nonsense about what Dominic Raab is going to.
But the reality is I’m still stuck here.’
FCO advice to those stuck in India reads: ‘We are working with the Indian authorities and airlines to support British nationals who want to leave India and return to the UK.
‘To support this we need to collect information on British nationals currently in India to advise when commercial flights to the UK become available.’
Yesterday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab unveiled a massive £75million repatriation plan to bring home ‘tens of thousands’ of Britons stranded abroad.
He said the UK government will now step in to provide ‘special charter flights’ from parts of the world where commercial flights are no longer in operation.
The government has struck a partnership deal with British Airways, Easyjet, Jet2 and other airlines to provide the planes for the effort, he added.
Speaking at the government’s daily coronavirus press conference at 10 Downing Street yesterday, Mr Raab said: ‘Under the arrangements that we are putting in place we will target flights from a range of priority countries, starting this week.’
But Mr Raab said in countries where commercial flights are still in operation, the instruction is still for Britons to buy tickets home ‘as soon as possible’.
‘Where commercial routes remain an option, airlines will be responsible for getting passengers home,’ he said.
‘That means offering alternative flights at little to no cost where routes have been cancelled.’