NEW DELHI – India on Wednesday will wrap up Operation Raahat, a massive evacuation exercise, amid global praise for the timely, brave and highly precise rescue of nearly 4000 nationals from volatile Yemen where a Saudi-led air campaign against Shi'ite Houthi fighters has left hundreds dead and injured.
The last batch of Indian nationals aboard an Indian Air Force craft is due to reach Mumbai today, according to reports.
"We will plan to end air evacuation efforts from Sana'a on April 8 and all those who want to leave should do so by Wednesday," Hindustan Times quoted external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin as saying.
The government’s efforts to pull, not just its own citizens, but also 232 persons from 26 countries from the strife-torn region, has been appreciated globally.
On Monday, more than 1,000 people were evacuated and India has been asked by 26 nations to help get their citizens out of the conflict zone.
US, France and Germany dial India to get their citizens out of Yemen http://t.co/UmDMFMh3Z0 via nationalyemen— Yemen Watch (@yemenwatch) April 8, 2015
An advisory on the website of the US embassy in Yemen asked its nationals to contact First Secretary Raj Kopal at the Indian Embassy in Sana’a.
“There are no plans for a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation of U.S. citizens at this time. If you wish to depart Yemen, you should stay alert for other opportunities to leave the country,” the advisory stated.
The Indian Navy's INS Tarkash, carrying 74 people, will reach Djibouti from Al Hodeidah today and the INS Sumitra will reach Al Hodeidah, reported NDTV. The Indian government has asked all those who wished to leave to reach the Yemeni capital to take the last Air India flight out of the war zone, the report stated.
Evacuees from Yemen, including residents of foreign countries, have thanked the Indian government.
"Everything was so easy for me even though I am a Yemeni. I want to thank the Indian government for making this happen," ANI quoted Sana, an evacuee from Yemen as saying.
A heroic and well coordinated rescue mission from Yemen by India! Bravo! pic.twitter.com/tXOWVFyE9n— Reshmi Dasgupta (@ReshmiDG) April 8, 2015
Yemen update: The last IAF flight operating between India and Djibouti reaches Mumbai this evening. pic.twitter.com/t0Fn8shYzg— Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor) April 8, 2015
"We appreciate this a lot, cannot thank the Indian Government enough to get us out of Yemen," said another evacuee from Northern Ireland. Bangladeshi evacuees also lauded Air India for its immense contribution in the evacuation process.
"Air India did a fantastic job. Air India is taking care of not only Indians but other nationals too, great job. The Indian government saved our lives and we will remember this throughout our life," said a Bangladeshi evacuee. Three Air India flights flew 574 passengers out of Yemen's Sana'a, while INS Mumbai evacuated 474 from Al Hudaydah port yesterday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday lauded the defence officials and all other government organisations, which contributed to the rescue work.
Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has been leading the rescue efforts with union minister VK Singh, a former army chief. Singh has been coordinating evacuation operations from Sa'naa in Yemen and Djibouti.
"My assessment is that out of all those who want to leave Yemen, I don't think more than 200-300 are left," said Gen Singh.
No need for thanks @SabahShawesh. It is our duty towards our country and countrymen. God bless your child - our young citizen.— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) April 6, 2015
A Pakistani navy ship carrying 11 Indians along with Pakistanis from Yemen arrived at Karachi yesterday, following which Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif offered a special plane to carry them home. Germany's Ambassador in New Delhi Michael Steiner also thanked India after Indian security forces helped rescue its stranded nationals.
(With inputs from agencies)