MALATYA/BOLU, Turkey

Turkish nationals brought back to their country from Saudi Arabia and Dubai, the United Arab Emirates due to the pandemic and currently under quarantine in student dormitories in Turkey’s eastern Malatya and northwestern Bolu provinces, feel happy to be back at home.

Upon the instructions of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and in coordination with the Foreign Ministry, Turkey has so far repatriated nearly 70,000 of its nationals from 107 countries, Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kiran said Wednesday.

Turkey continued to repatriate its citizens ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan amid the pandemic.

Muti Kaya, who came back from Saudi Arabia, told Anadolu Agency he was happy to be in Turkey.

“Currently only Turkey evacuates its citizens from Saudi Arabia. May God bless everyone. Fortunately we are Turkish, fortunately we are Turkish citizens. Hopefully, our other friends who are still there, can also return to our country unharmed,” he said.

Another returnee Kadir Cakmak said that except Turkey, no other country evacuated their citizens in Saudi Arabia.

“The moment I step into Turkey I felt it: our country, our state is strong and welcomed us. We are grateful to everyone for this, especially to our country, our state and our president,” he added.

Besides, some of the quarantined returnees expressed their gratitude to Turkey and authorities by writing a letter.

Seyma Kabadayi, who was brought back from Dubai, said in her letter she was proud of her country, and that all needs were met in the dormitory they were quarantined.

“I am grateful to my state and nation once again,” she added.

Others also expressed their gratitude for the services they received in quarantine.

As of Wednesday, Turkey reported a total of 131,744 coronavirus cases, 78,202 of which have fully recovered. The death toll stands at 3,584.

Since first appearing in Wuhan, China last December, the novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to at least 187 countries and regions, with the US and Europe the hardest-hit areas.

The pandemic has killed over 264,600 worldwide, with the number of infections totaling more than 3.78 million and recoveries surpassing 1.25 million, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University of the US.

* Writing by Seda Sevencan in Ankara

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