New Delhi, April 2: Another batch of over 300 Indian tiols will be ferried to safety from Yemen, the government said on Thursday, as 358 Indians who arrived from the strife-torn country in two airplanes early on Thursday expressed relief to be back home and away from the constant bombings.
Two C-17 Globemaster transport planes arrived in India early on Thursday — one landed in Mumbai with 190 people on board, while another with 168 Indians went to Kochi in Kerala.
Exterl affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted that Indian val ship INS Sumitra has docked in the western Yemeni port of Al Hudaydah in order to pick up the waiting Indians.
“Evacuation of 300-plus Indian tiols from Yemen underway,” he said.
Defence ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar tweeted that one more C-17 Globemaster III aircraft of the Indian Air Force has departed from Jamgar for Djibouti to bring back the stranded Indians.
The first Globemaster plane carrying 168 people, mostly nurses from Kerala, landed at Kochi airport around 2 a.m., while the second transport plane carrying 190 Indians landed in Mumbai at 3.25 a.m.
Yemen has been rocked by fighting since January 22 when Shia Houthi rebels took over Sa’a. President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi who was in Aden flew off to Riyadh. Yemen has been facing continuing air strikes by a coalition of 10 countries led by Saudi Arabia.
India has initiated a highly coordited operation to evacuate its tiols.
The returnees expressed happiness to be back home, but were concerned about their future.
“We are really happy to be with our near and dear ones,” said a nurse who was elated over her safe return to Kochi.
“The bigger question is what will happen to our future... We want a job, but do not know where it will come from, as we have families to look after,” said the nurse.
The number of Indian tiols in Yemen, which was estimated around 14,000 in 2010, declined to an estimated 5,000 by June 2011 following political instability and violence in the country. However, only around 3,000 Indians are registered with the embassy in Sa’a. Most of the Indians living in Yemen comprise nurses, hospital staff, university professors, professiols, white collar workers, IT professiols and magerial and clerical staff in the private sector. A vast majority of them hail from Kerala but a few belong to other states like Tamil du, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kartaka, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal.
Recalling the horror, a returnee said: “The situation in Yemen is getting worse day by day as there are frequent bombings. Bombs were dropped around 200 metres from where I stayed. The most affected are the children.”
Another returnee said: “Communications are also breaking down and then it becomes tough for Indian Embassy officials to get in touch with Indians.”
Kerala’s Minister for Diaspora K.C. Joseph told IANS that they were in constant touch with the exterl affairs ministry and with Indian officials in Yemen and Djibouti.
“Diplomatic efforts maged to break ice with Saudi Arabian authorities to clear the way for a free air zone to ensure our flights land in Yemen and then return through their air space.
“But talks with Iranian authorities are on as their permission is also required. There are another 2,500 Keralites including nurses and teachers,” said Joseph.
The Kerala government has given a token amount of Rs.2,000 to each of them.
Joseph said Kerala will press the central government to ensure that diplomatic talks are held to ensure the return of Indians. He said the state government will look into providing jobs to the nurses who have returned.
“There are practical difficulties to find jobs for around 2,000 nurses, but our government will do everything possible,” said Joseph. India has also agreed to requests from neighbours Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to assist in evacuation of their tiols from Yemen.(IANS)