New Delhi: Another batch of 306 Indian nationals left the shores of strife-torn Yemen for Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, from where they would be brought to India. Separately, a batch of 35 Indians made it to Djibouti on their own on a cargo vessel, the government said on Thursday.
In the wee hours of the morning, 358 Indians arrived from the Gulf country in two airplanes -- one landed in Kochi, and another in Mumbai. The Indians expressed relief to be back home and away from the constant bombings in Yemen, where intense fighting has broken out between the Shia Houthi rebels, who have taken over Sanaa and the Saudi-led coalition of 10 nations.
The first batch of 168 Indian nationals, evacuated from Yemen by Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft, arrive at Kochi International Airport on Thursday. Pic/ PTI
The 306 Indians who left Al Hodeidah port, on the western coast of Yemen, comprised 251 men, 38 women and 17 children. They boarded the INS Sumitra which had ferried the earlier batch of Indians from Aden port to Djibouti. Defence ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar tweeted: "INS Sumitra leaves Al Hodeidah with 306 Indians on board." He also posted a photograph of the Indians boarding the ship.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted: "35 Indian nationals make it to Djibouti late this afternoon on a cargo vessel fromA Aden. Being looked after by our officials there." INS Mumbai, INS Tarkash along with ships Kavaratti and Coral are heading to Djibouti, on the Horn of Africa, as a composite evacuation force.
A total of 358 Indians arrived from the strife-torn country. Two C-17 Globemaster transport planes arrived early morning -- one landed in Mumbai with 190 people, while another with 168 Indians went to Kochi in Kerala. Kar tweeted that one more C-17 Globemaster III aircraft of the Indian Air Force has departed for Djibouti to bring back the stranded Indians.
Yemen has been rocked by fighting since January 22 when Shia Houthi rebels took over Sana'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 coordinated operation to evacuate its nationals. 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.
Most of the Indians living in Yemen comprise nurses, hospital staff, university professors, professionals, white collar workers, IT professionals and managerial and clerical staff in the private sector. A vast majority of them hail from Kerala but a few belong to other states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Karnataka, 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." India has also agreed to requests from neighbours Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to assist in evacuation of their nationals from Yemen.