6:34 pm - Tuesday November 3, 2015

Indians evacuated from Yemen to reach Djibouti today en-route home

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Ship leaves for Djibouti Port to evacuate Indians stranded in conflict-hit Yemen

The 348 Indians dramatically evacuated by an Indian warship from the Yemeni port of Aden amidst an overnight bombardment are expected to reach Djibouti by mid-day on Wednesday.

The group of men, women and children will be flown home from Djibouti, where minister of state for external affairs V K Singh is camping to oversee the evacuation of Indians from war-torn Yemen.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin announced the evacuation of the 348 Indians by the warship INS Sumitra on Twitter.

“INS Sumitra set sail for Djibouti late last night from Aden with 348 Indian nationals evacuated from Yemen…the first phase of this national effort involving the Indian Navy was successful,” Akbaruddin said.

This is the first batch of Indians evacuated by sea. On Saturday, 80 Indians had flown from the Yemeni capital Sanaa to Djibouti, from where they were airlifted home.

Another official earlier said the warship “sailed into a barrage of bombs” to evacuate the stranded Indians.

Houthi rebels have been trying to capture the southern port of Aden, which is the last stronghold of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

As part of its “Operation Raahat”, India has sent two warships — the destroyer INS Mumbai and stealth frigate INS Tarkash —to Djibouti, a country located on the Horn of Africa in the Gulf of Aden.

The two warships and two passenger liners, Kavaratti and Corals, which left from Kochi on Monday, will join up in the Arabian Sea and move as a composite group to Djibouti.

According to the external affairs ministry, there are more than 4,100 Indians in Yemen. However, officials believe only 2,500 will leave the country. Most of the Indians are nurses and paramedical staff from Kerala and officials have said many of them are reluctant to leave as they haven’t been paid their salaries.

Yemeni civilians shuddered in fear and bristled with anger under an intense Saudi-led bombing campaign against Shia Houthi rebels on Tuesday, day six of fighting that prompted international aid organisations to express alarm over high civilian casualties from air strikes and violence roiling the country.

UN human rights staffers in Yemen have verified that at least 19 civilians died when air strikes hit a camp for displaced people near the Houthi stronghold of Saada in northern Yemen. At least 35 more were wounded, including 11 children.

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