KUWAIT: The deportation center is experiencing unprecedented overcrowding due to unavailability of flights to take inmates back to their countries, Al-Qabas Arabic daily reported yesterday. The number of those awaiting deportation is around 800 violators from five Asian and African countries. Some of them are in police station holding cells, the deportation prison, residency violators' holding cell, criminal detectives' holding cell and the Drugs Control General Department for nine months.

Security officials attribute this to the air travel ban to 35 countries, adding it has negatively affected the deportation of nationals of these countries due to exorbitant ticket prices. They said that most of the detainees are from Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Madagascar, including entire families with women and children. There are no direct or transit flights to deport them, so they are looking for flights with multiple stops, which require more money than they are able to pay. The interior ministry was able to obtain tickets for some of them through NGOs and charity societies.

Security sources also said they decided to suspend security campaigns until further notice so as not to cause overcrowding and spread infectious diseases among the detainees. Meanwhile, informed sources said the interior ministry invited the Sri Lankan ambassador several times and arranged a meeting with inmates at the deportation center so he can convey their suffering to his country's officials. Many inmates, particularly Sri Lankans and Vietnamese, have threatened to commit suicide due to being held for a long time at the center. This was conveyed to their embassies, which are being held responsible for not accepting them.

Digital platform

In other news, Al-Anbaa Arabic daily yesterday quoted an informed source at Kuwait International Airport who said a unified health digital platform will be launched at the airport, most likely next week. He said preparations are being made to carry out PCR tests as per the Cabinet decision, which calls for taking swabs of all arriving passengers by private healthcare providers at T1, T3, T4 and T5, which are also expected to start working next week. The source said that work is ongoing to restart commercial operations at 30 percent capacity after deciding to reduce the number of arriving passengers.

Meanwhile, Kuwait Airways categorically denied social media reports about suspending flights to London and New York, adding that the current halt is due to the coronavirus pandemic and its effect on supply and demand, and in compliance with instructions by health authorities. It added the New York-London route has been suspended for years due to commercial reasons, Al-Qabas Arabic daily reported yesterday. Reports on social media claimed that Kuwait Airways cancelled its New York and London routes after Israeli passengers won a court ruling to force Kuwait Airways to accept them on its flights to London.