Jerusalem (AFP) – Israel began repatriating its nationals from quake-hit Nepal Monday, including two groups of babies born to surrogate mothers in Kathmandu whose fathers are homosexual Israelis, officials said.
Three of the newborns arrived on a military plane in the morning, and five others landed at noon on an aircraft commissioned by Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency medical service, which had brought medics to Nepal on Sunday.
The babies would undergo DNA testing to confirm their parentage and then receive Israeli citizenship.
Nepal has become a destination for people seeking to have children through surrogate mothers, though the practice is controversial, with critics saying it exploits the poverty of women.
The foreign ministry says 25 babies were recently born in Kathmandu — four of them prematurely — to surrogate mothers from India, and it would be doing everything possible to bring the remaining 17 babies and their Israeli parents to Israel.
The ministry said it has yet to succeed in contacting 50 Israelis in Nepal following the Saturday quake that has claimed more than 4,000 lives.
Tammuz, an Israeli firm offering surrogacy services, said meanwhile it had sent a delegation from India to ensure the wellbeing of the approximately 80 pregnant Indian women in Nepal who are serving surrogate mothers to the company’s primarily Israeli clients.
Nepal allows surrogacy practices in its borders for foreigners, but prohibits Nepalese women from being surrogate mothers.
Israel’s justice ministry said on Monday it would allow the surrogate mothers in advanced states of pregnancy to fly to Israel, but only on the condition they were doing so of their free volition and after the dangers of flying in their condition was explained to them.