New Delhi: India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation on Monday added that it will operate 270 flights repatriation flights from the United Arab Emirates, starting October 1 to bring its citizens back who want to return home amidst COVID-19.

The ministry said its new schedule, which will run until Oct. 25, constitutes the seventh phase of its repatriation mission, known as Vande Bharat. The state-owned budget airline, Air India Express will operate these flights. They may be supplemented later, if needed, by other Indian carriers, it added.

The flights will leave for India from Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Dubai airports to several domestic destinations in India. The seventh phase of the repatriation mission covers a number of new Indian airports.

The schedule announced on Monday also includes flights to bring back Indians from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. In Oman, the flights will operate from both Muscat and Salalah airports. From Saudi Arabia, the airports of origin are Dammam and Riyadh.

Meanwhile, 269 flights will be operated to the UAE from Indian cities by Air India Express for 24 days from Oct. 1. These flights will take back Indians who live and work in the UAE.

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Hong Kong, Oct 25: Amnesty International said Monday it would close its two offices in Hong Kong this year, becoming the latest non-governmental organization to cease its operations amid a crackdown on political dissent in the city.

The human rights group said its local office in Hong Kong would close this month while its regional office will close by the end of the year, with regional operations moved to other offices in the Asia-Pacific region.

This decision, made with a heavy heart, has been driven by Hong Kong's national security law, which has made it effectively impossible for human rights organizations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government, Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, chair of Amnesty's board, said in a statement.

Hong Kong implemented a sweeping national security law in 2020 following months of massive anti-government protests. The law outlaws secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and foreign collusion to intervene in the city's affairs. More than 120 people, many of them supporters of the city's democracy movement, have been arrested under the law.

The majority of the city's prominent pro-democracy activists are behind bars for taking part in unauthorized assemblies, and dozens of political organizations and trade unions have ceased operations out of concern for their members' personal safety under the security law.

Bais said the recent targeting of local human rights and trade union groups signaled authorities were intensifying their campaign to rid the city of dissenting voices. It is increasingly difficult for us to keep operating in such an unstable environment, she said.

Critics in Hong Kong say the national security law is an erosion of freedoms, such as those of expression and assembly, that were promised the city for 50 years when the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.