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Child, 5, stuck in India while parents are in Australia amid strict Covid rules

A five-year-old girl is stuck in India while her parents are in Australia and they have not been able to see each other for one year and a half due to strict coronavirus restrictions.

Little Johannah has not seen her parents Drisya and Dilin since November 2019 and it is not clear when they will be able to reunite.

The young girl is one of at least 173 children who are stuck in India and are trying to return to Australia.

Johannah was staying with her grandparents when the pandemic hit and was not able to return home to her parents due to border closures.

Drisya and Dilin tried to get her on government-organised flights, but have not been able to bring her home yet because children younger than 17 are not allowed to travel alone on the repatriation trips.

Johannah with her parents
Johannah’s parents are trying to bring her home

When Johannah’s parents found a flight to bring her home through a private company, they were hoping her daughter could travel from Bangalore to Sydney yesterday.

However, that flight was cancelled after the Australian government brought in a ban on all arrivals from India.

Dilin told the BBC : “It was our last hope, we have exhausted all options.

“We literally fell apart. Sometimes you get a ray of hope, but then there’s a set back like this.”

Dilin and Drisya also told their story to an Australian Senate committee which is investigating the government’s effort to bring stranded citizens back home.

The heartbroken dad told the Committee: “We have not seen [our daughter] grow. When her grandma says she has grown, I feel sad.”

Lynette Wood from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said officials knew of 173 children who were “outside of their family group – that is they are on their own – who are seeking to return to Australia.”

Scott Morrison
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Many children, like Johannah, had been staying with their grandparents before the pandemic struck.

One of the children is 19-months-old Ziva Narang, who has not seen her mum Muneet for over a year, ABC reports.

The woman said: “Every time I see her on the video cam, I feel like crying, but I can’t cry in front of my own parents – it makes them so disheartened.”

Ms Narang travelled to India with her two daughters in January last year and returned to Australia with her elder daughter in March.

Little Ziva was due to return with her grandmother but then borders closed.

Muneet said: “We never imagined that this lockdown would last for so long.

“People are really struggling to get flights, people are really struggling to survive, people don’t know how to live without their loved ones.”

India has been fighting a devastating coronavirus outbreak, with millions of people getting infected and thousands dying every week.

In the past week alone, the country recorded 1.57 million new infections.

The country reported a record daily 414,188 new cases on Friday, while deaths from Covid-19 swelled by 3,915, bringing total deaths to 234,083.

Medical experts say the real extent of Covid-19 in India is five to 10 times the official tallies.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Australia recorded 29,893 cases and 910 Covid-related deaths.

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