156 Indians return from war-hit South Sudan

PTI7_15_2016_000046B Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh with Indians evacuated from South Sudan on their arrival at Air Force Station Palam, New Delhi | PTI

Operation Sankat Mochan, an endeavour of the Ministry of External Affairs culminated successfully on Friday, with around 175 Indian evacuated from war torn South Sudan being brought back to India. The government had pressed two InCKdian Air Force C 17 Globemasters into service after 300 Indians living in South Sudan responded to the government’s outreach to help evacuate them. According to the MEA, there are 600 Indians living in South Sudan.

The evacuation was co-ordinated by Minister of State for External Affairs General V.K. Singh. Amar Sinha, secretary (economic relations) in the foreign office, was part of the team which headed to Juba. The evacuation was conducted in co-operation with the authorities of South Sudan. General Singh met their foreign minister Deng Alor Kuol. The operation also received support from Indian blue berets posted in south Sudan as part of the UNMISS force.

The flights took off from Juba, stopped for refuelling at Entebbe in Uganda and reached India on Friday. They first stopped at Thiruvananthapuram, as many of the evacuees were of Kerala origin, and then headed to Delhi. The first aircraft brought 143 evacuees including ten women and three infants.

MEA sources said that several Indians had sought evacuation after the situation in South Sudan turned tense, following which the MEA and Defence ministry scrambled up the Operation Sankat Mochan. However, of the 300 who initially registered, around a half dropped out, perhaps because with the ceasefire on, they preferred staying back.

IANS adds: Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the evacuated Indians and congratulated Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the IAF, and the Railway Ministry for their effort. He also congratulated External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh, who led the operation.

"PM congratulated RM @manoharparrikar, IAF, the Railways, @airindiain for their role in Operation #SankatMochan," PMO India tweeted.

Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) made special arrangement for the onward journey of the persons belonging to Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Delhi, Chandigarh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh.

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Topics : #MEA