Bahrain Roundup 2020: 2,130 Bahrainis Stranded in Iran for over Two Months

2021-01-06 - 9:30 am

Bahrain Mirror (Roundup 2020): On February 24, Bahrain announced the country's first coronavirus (COVID-19) case on Bahraini territory. Citizens felt terrified after they received news about this case, especially as the pandemic started to spread across the world. Iran (which is geographically close to Bahrain) and Italy topped the statistics in terms of number of infections.

On the following day, February 25, Bahrain announced preventing its citizens from traveling from and to Iran. It also suspended its flights to other countries, mainly the United Arab Emirates which is considered a transit point for Bahrainis heading from and to Iran, due to the suspension of flights between the two countries that has been taking place for years over political reasons.

As a result of this situation, the crisis of stranded Bahrainis in Iran emerged. The crisis lasted for more than two months during which countless scandals were revealed. Eight Bahrainis died in Iran far from their homeland which prompted the anger of Bahraini Shiites who deemed the whole issue to be an act of sectarian targeting.

The authorities didn't announce the number of Bahrainis stranded in Iran; however, Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society said they amounted to 2,130, all of whom wanted to return to Bahrain.

On February 26, the authorities announced allocating a hotel in Iran to accommodate Bahrainis until they return, without presenting other explanations about the evacuation plan or any specified dates, especially after countries near Iran (Kuwait and the UAE) suspended flights to/from Iran.

A couple of days later, the Bahraini Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the stranded Bahrainis to provide the Ministry with their information, placing a hotline at their service. However, the sufferings of Bahrainis stranded outside Bahrain, particularly Iran, started a few days later. Most of the citizens ran out of money, while it was very difficult for their families to transfer money to them to Iran due to the economic sanctions. People suffering from chronic diseases also ran out of medications.

On March 5th and as the crisis continued, the Iranian government issued a statement for the first time since the crisis started. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Bahrain did nothing to evacuate its citizens and didn't contact the Iranian government which was ready to cooperate in this regard, stressing that Bahrain is acting "irresponsibly". Meanwhile, Kuwaitis started to collect funds to help those stranded in Iran and provide them with suitable accommodation after over a week of struggling.

On March 6th, King Hamad directed the Jaffaria Endowments Directorate to bear the expenses of the Bahraini nationals stranded abroad. This was considered a new insult to them, as it is known that the Foreign Ministry is responsible for taking care of its citizens abroad.

On March 11, the first batch of Bahrainis stuck in Iran, 165, was evacuated. The Health Ministry later said that 77 of them were infected with the virus. All of those who were brought back were placed in quarantine for two weeks and the infected were admitted to the hospital. The authorities later cancelled 3 scheduled flights of Bahrainis stranded in Iran.

On March 13, the Interior Ministry Rashid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa met with members of parliament and accused Iran of waging a "biological war" on Bahrain through the Bahraini visitors coming from Iran.

On March 27, 2020, the "Muscat Scandal" took place. A number of Bahrainis stuck in Iran were able to travel from Iran to Doha and from Doha to Muscat which was flying daily flights to Bahrain via Gulf Air. However, Gulf Air canceled the flight after it became aware that a large number of Bahrainis returning from Iran reserved tickets. Muscat Airport security tried later to return the Bahrainis to Doha after Bahrain refused to receive them. After the scandal circulated on social media, Bahrain decided to rent a commercial plane to transfer the stranded.

On March 28, the Qatari authorities told 31 Bahrainis that they were prevented from travelling to Oman on a Qatari flight, based on the Sultanate of Oman's instructions as they told them that they will not receive any Bahraini citizen after the Muscat airport incident. Bahrainis refused to return to Iran and as a result the Qatari authorities said that it will allow them to stay. They were tested for Coronavirus and an accommodation was provided for them. Bahrain later condemned the "Qatari interference" and decided to evacuate the Bahrainis stuck in Doha two days after the incident.

Following the situation in Qatar and pressure from the Bahraini people, the Bahraini authorities announced a plan to evacuate the stranded in Iran and other countries. The last evacuation plan of those stranded in Iran took place on May 4, 2020.

Name of the Deceased

Date of Death

Haj Hasan Al-Sehlawi

March 5, 2020

Haj Ali Mohammad Ibraim

March 7, 2020

Haj Mousa Abduljabar

March 10, 2020

Haj Abdulhusein Mansour

March 15, 2020

Haj Sayed Hameed Mostafa Jawad

March 16, 2020

Haj Mohsen Jomaa Al-Jadid

March 28, 2020

Haj Abdulnabi Abdullah

March 31, 2020

Hak Abdulaziz Mohammad Sahwan

April 27, 2020

Arabic Version

المصدر: Bahrain Mirror
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