India’s Yemen evacuation mission ends

KPM BASHEER Kochi | Updated on January 23, 2018

1,291 nationals of 35 countries among those rescued by India by aircraft and ships

Over 300 Bangladeshis, who had been evacuated by India from war-ravaging Yemen, left Kochi early Sunday morning by two Biman Bangladesh aircraft.

This marked the winding up of India’s evacuation mission whereby more than 3,000 Indians as well as other nationals in Yemen were rescued by ships and aircraft.

The 337 Bangladeshis had arrived here on Saturday by the two evacuation ships,

m.v. Kavaratti and m.v. Corals, which had been sent to Djibouti from Kochi to evacuate Indian national from Yemen. However, the occupants of the ships, which carried a total of 475 people, included only 73 Indians. Thirty one of them hailed from Tamil Nadu; 16 from Kerala; eight each from Mumbai and Delhi; and, one from Karnataka.

Apart from 337 Bangladeshis, there were on board 65 Yemeni nationals, who were of Indian origin. Many of them left for Mumbai by train or air to live with their relatives for a while. Among the Yemenis was a kidney patient who was rushed to a Kochi hospital to undergo dialysis immediately upon the ships’ arrival.

The ships, which had left Kochi on March 30 as part of the Operation Rahat evacuation mission, took six days to reach Kochi from Djibouti, the nearest seaport that lies on the Strait of Aden from across Yemen’s shores. The Indians, Bangladeshis and Yemenis fleeing from Yemen were ferried to Djibouti by Indian Navy vessels.

The two passenger ships had been escorted by the naval frigate INS Tarkash half way through and INS Tir, later on. At one time, the ships were scared by Somali pirate boats and passengers said they had been asked switch off lights on board. In view of the threat from the pirates, the ships carried a team of marine commandos.

India rescued a total of 1,291 foreign nationals hailing from 35 countries. This has been one of the biggest evacuation missions abroad ever undertaken by India. INS Sumitra, which had been on the patrol in the Gulf of Aden to checkmate Somali pirates since 2008, was the first Indian vessel to reach out to the distressed Indian nationals in Yemen. On March 31, it ferried 349 Indians to Djibouti. India’s effort has been praised by many international agencies. The effort was supported by three naval vessels, two passenger ships and several rounds of evacuation by air.

Published on April 19, 2015

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