India has ended “Operation Rahat”, the massive evacuation effort of its nationals from Yemen, pulling out 5,600 people - 4,640 Indians and 960 nationals from 41 other countries - but some 200 Indians have refused to leave the country despite shelling and bombing intensifying.
The youngest to be evacuated is a three-day-old baby who was flown back to Kochi in an incubator.
France thanked India for evacuating some of its nationals from the strife-torn country.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted: “France thanks India for enormous efforts in Yemen evacuation.”
India also pulled out 272 Bangladesh nationals.
Akbaruddin tweeted: “Support for a neighbour. Bangladesh’s Ambassador in Djiboiti with 272 compatriots evacuated by INS Sumitra from Yemen.”
According to Anil Wadhwa, secretary (east) in the external affairs ministry, there are some 200 Indians who are refusing to leave Yemen, though Indian officials are regularly urging them to leave.
“The main difficulty is that some people don’t want to go. There are around 200 people who are refusing to leave,” Wadhwa said.
According to him there were many reasons for Indians refusing to leave Yemen. These included some being married to locals, some nurses not wanting to leave as their wages had not been paid, or as labour contractors had taken their money.
“We are trying to solve their problems,” he said.
According to Wadhwa air space restrictions left very little time for Air India and the Indian Air Force to land and fly out of Sana’a. “We had very little time, the plane had to be there in the three-four hours, and leave,” Wadhwa said.
Many Indians did not have their proper documents. “Many did not have their resident cards, so we have to pay a fine.. It is either waived or we find some way of compromise,” he added.
While evacuation by air ended yesterday, sea evacuation will end today. A ship was in Aden yesterday, and today it will sail to Al Hudeidah, which will be the last sortie, he said.
Wadhwa said Indian officials were trying to persuade the remaining Indians to leave. He also termed the evacuation as one of the largest by India in recent times.
The evacuation by sea began on March 26 and by air on April 1.
Akbaruddin said “the total number of Indians evacuated from Sana’a in 18 special flights since the beginning of the air operations has crossed 2,900.”
A ministry of external affairs statement said “Indian naval vessels had evacuated over 1,670 Indians from Aden, Al Hudaydah and Al Mukalla ports in Yemen since March 31.”
A spokesperson tweeted a photograph of a three-day-old baby who was evacuated from Yemen and sent to Kochi.
Minister of State for External Affairs, V K Singh, who returned yesterday morning, said the mission had been successful because of the good team work and co-ordination.
There was good co-ordination between Air India, the Indian Air Force, the Indian Navy and the external affairs ministry, Singh said.
India had posted 20 officials to oversee the evacuation effort, including five in Djibouti and five in Sana’a.
Meanwhile in Thiruvananthapuram, state minister for diaspora, K C Joseph, told reporters that with the arrival of 382 more Keralites from Yemen to Kochi yesterday, the total number of those brought back home has crossed 2,300. He added more people from Kerala were still stranded in the country.
Joseph said he spoke to a Kerala nurse on Thursday at a hospital in Yemen and she said the nurses were not interested to return home to India.
“She (nurse) told me that there were 64 nurses from Kerala at her hospital. Despite several pleas, she told me that I should not pressure the nurses to return home,” Joseph claimed.
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