India to wrap up Op Rahat today in war-ravaged Yemen

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 08, 2015 15:05 IST

New Delhi will wrap up its air operations in Yemen on Wednesday with the last group of Indian nationals set to be evacuated from the war-ravaged country, officials said.

Officials said over 4,000 Indians have been evacuated till Tuesday night under ‘Operation Rahat’, launched by the Indian Air Force and navy amidst fierce fighting between Iran-backed Shiite Houthi fighters and forces loyal to president Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

“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,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

Nearly 700 more Indians, including 600 from capital Sana’a, were evacuated in three air sorties on Tuesday.

Asked about any remaining Indians, sources said 4,100 Indians had registered with the Indian mission in Yemen and most of them are out.

The government, however, may continue the evacuation by sea route for some more time, they added.

India has also evacuated over 230 nationals from 26 countries based out of Yemen.

Eleven Indians who were evacuated by the Pakistan Navy’s Aslat from Yemen’s southeastern city of Mukallah reached Karachi on Tuesday. They will be flown in a special aircraft to Delhi.

“India accepts Pakistan’s offer to fly back from Karachi by special plane 11 Indians evacuated by Pakistan naval ship from Yemen,” Akbaruudin said.

Pakistan high commissioner to India Abdul Basit said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif offered a special aircraft to the Indian high commission in Islamabad to send back the Indian citizens.

India has carried out several large evacuations of its citizens living abroad in recent years -- from Ukraine, Iraq and Libya, among others -- but had not used naval warships for any of the operations since the 2006 war in Lebanon, northern Israel and the Golan Heights.

Catastrophic situation

Meanwhile, the Red Cross has warned of a “catastrophic” situation in Yemen’s main southern city Aden which has witnessed fierce fighting over the last few weeks.

International Committee of the Red Cross spokesperson Marie Claire Feghali said the humanitarian situation across Yemen was “very difficult... (with) naval, air and ground routes cut off.

“The war in Aden is on every street, in every corner... Many are unable to escape,” she added.

Houthi rebels and their allies made a new push on a port in the central Mualla district of the city, but were forced back by militia supporting President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, witnesses said.

Naval forces of the Saudi-led coalition, which has carried out nearly two weeks of air strikes in support of Hadi, shelled rebel positions across the city, the witnesses said, though the coalition denied launching a naval combat operation.

General Ahmed Assiri, spokesperson for the coalition, however, said many parts of the city remained “stable”.

(With agency inputs)

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