Around a hundred people called on the government to “bring back our children” from the locked down Chinese province of Hubei in a demonstration yesterday in Karachi.
Pakistan has so far ruled out evacuating the more than 1,000 Pakistani students in the province, home to the city of Wuhan, at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak.
Health minister Zafar Mirza, the special adviser to the prime minister on health, tweeted on Friday that he and other ministers would hold a meeting for parents in Islamabad on Wednesday and that his government is working with Chinese authorities to ensure students are taken care of.
However, many students and their families have expressed growing frustration as the death toll in China mounts, pointing to other countries, including neighbouring India and Bangladesh, evacuating their citizens.
“For God’s sake, we request from the government representatives please bring back our children, please listen to a mother’s grievance,” one protester, who declined to give her name, told media while bursting into tears.
The protesters chanted “bring back our children” and held up banners with the same message.
Earlier in the week dozens of families in Lahore held a protest outside the Chinese consulate.
A spokesman for Mirza did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for further comment.
Students in touch with Reuters from China over the past days said they wanted to leave.
Mir Hassan, a student whose father died of a heart ailment this month while he was stuck in Wuhan, said he had been told by Pakistani officials that he would not be evacuated despite wanting to return home to his mother.
Sahil Hassan, a PhD student in Wuhan, said he is finding it hard to receive scholarship payments, leaving them unable to afford food and bottled water from their university’s food delivery service while in lockdown.
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