India evacuates 5,600 from Yemen, 200 Indians unwilling to leave
New Delhi, April 10: India has ended "Operation Rahat", the massive evacuation effort of its nationals from Yemen, pulling out 5,600 people - 4,640 Indians and 960 nationals from 41 other countries - but some 200 Indians have declined to leave the country despite shelling and bombing intensifying.
The youngest to be evacuated is a three-day-old baby who was flown back to Kochi inside an incubator.
India also got a thank you from France for evacuating some of its nationals from the strife-torn country.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted: "France thanks India for enormous efforts in Yemen evacuation."
India also pulled out 272 Bangladesh nationals.
Akbaruddin tweeted: "Support for a neighbour. Bangladesh's Ambassador in Djiboiti with 272 compatriots evacuated by INS Sumitra from Yemen."
According to Anil Wadhwa, secretary (East) in the external affairs ministry, there are some 200 Indians who are refusing to leave Yemen, though the Indian officials are regularly urging them to get out.
"The main difficulty is that some people don't want to get out. There are around 200 people who are refusing to leave," Wadhwa told IANS.
According to him there are different reasons for the Indians refusing to leave Yemen. These included some being married to locals, some nurses not wanting to leave as their wages have not been paid, or the labour contractors have taken their money away.
"We are trying to solve their problems," he said.
India was also under pressure to evacuate citizens from other countries, Yemenis in particular. "But we don't mind," he said.
The air space restrictions gave very little time to Air India and the Indian Air Force to land and fly out from Sana'a with only a time frame of around three-four hours.
"We had very little time, the plane had to be there in the three-four hours, and get out," Wadhwa said.
A lot of the Indians did not have their proper documents. "Many Indians did not have their resident card, so we have to pay a fine.. It is either waived or we find some way of compromise."
The air evacuation has ended but the sea evacuation will end on Saturday. One ship was in Aden on Friday, and on Saturday it will sail to Al Hudeidah, which will be the last sortie, he said.
Wadhwa said that the Indian officials are trying to persuade the remaining Indians to leave. "We keep telling them get out while you can."
He also termed the evacuation as one of the largest in recent times by India.
The evacuation began by sea on March 26 and by air on April 1.
Akbaruddin said that India concluded its evacuation efforts in Sana'a by airlifting over 630 people by three special Air India flights from the Yemeni capital.
"The total no. of Indians evacuated from Sana'a by air has crossed 2,900 by 18 special flights since the beginning of the air operations," a ministry of external affairs statement said.
"Indian naval vessels have also evacuated over 1,670 Indians from Aden, Al Hudaydah and Al Mukalla ports in Yemen since 31 March," it added.
"Indian Naval Ship INS Sumitra evacuated 349 persons, including 46 Indians and 303 foreign nationals from Al Hudaydah port on April 9," it said.
The spokesperson tweeted a photograph of a three-day-old baby who was evacuated from Yemen and sent back to Kochi.
"Youngest evacuee from Yemen.A 3 day baby in incubator along with an accompanying Doctor on AI flight to Kochi," he wrote.
Minister of State for External Affairs,A V.K. Singh, who returned on Friday morning, said that Mission Yemen has been successful because of good team work and coordination.
Speaking to reporters, he said that there was good coordination between Air India, the Indian Air Force, the Indian Navy and the external affairs ministry.
India had posted 20 officials to oversee the evacuation effort, including five in Djibouti and five in Sanaa.