Thiruvananthapuram: 156 persons who were evacuated from war torn South Sudan arrived on a special Indian Air Force C-17 aircraft at the international airport here early his morning.
This was part of the 'Operation Sankat Mochan' to evacuate Indians from the African country initiated by the government and was led by MoS for External Affairs VK Singh. Singh had earlier personally monitored the rescue operations and evacuation of thousands of Indians and foreign nationals by India from Yemen in West Asia.
The IAF aircraft touched here around 5 am. Speaking to reporters at the airport, Singh said two aircrafts were involved in the evacuation operation and the other flight will land in Delhi.
He said that nearly 300 Indian nationals have declined the offer to be evacuated citing the ceasefire which has brought a welcome break after a week of intense fighting.
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"There were more than 500 Indians evacuated. Over 300 Indians will continue to stay there for their business interests. About 150 Indians are there who work in the oil wells and for them it's easier to go towards Sudan where there are not much issues," Singh said.
"While I was there, I spoke to the Vice President of South Sudan and he told me what they are doing with regards the safety of the people there," added Singh.
Soon after this, External Affairs Ministry Sushma Swaraj asked those nationals left behind to leave the country.
“We have sent two aircraft. This is the right time. Please move out of South Sudan. If situation deteriorates, we will not be able to evacuate you. Please ask all your relatives and friends in South Sudan to please make use of this opportunity and move out,” Swaraj tweeted.
Among those rescued included 46 Keralites, two Nepalese nationals, seven women and three children. The remaining passengers hailed from other south Indian states. The Kerala government has made special arrangements for their onward journey.