The first Indian Air force flight C-17 carrying 156 persons, who were evacuated from war-torn South Sudan’s capital city Juba, arrived here early on Friday. Aircraft first reached Thiruvananthapuram at 6 am and later reached Delhi at 10:50 am on Friday.
Kerala State Power minister, Kadakkampally Surendran, received the passengers when they arrived in Trivandrum and Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel received them in Delhi.
Appreciating efforts of Air force and Ministry of External Affairs officers, for successful evacuation of Indian nationals from violence African nation South Sudan External Affairs Minister Swaraj welcomed them home.
“The flight from South Sudan has landed in Delhi. I welcome our brothers and sisters on their safe return from strife torn South Sudan. Your country is always with you in hour of crisis,” said External Affairs Minister Swaraj.
The evacuees also included two Nepali citizens, besides nine women and three children. The passengers from Kerala and some from Tamil Nadu disembarked after a brief halt here before leaving for Delhi.
“I also met the VP of South Sudan and spoke about the situation. He informed about their initiatives to ensure safety of our citizens reaming in Juba,” said MoS External Affairs VK Singh who lead the operation.
There are over 550 Indians at Juba and another 150 in areas where the oil wells are located.
“When we landed, 156 came out with us. There were 30-40 people who had already booked their tickets when the commercial flights started and 300 people did not want to be evacuated due to their business concerns and other activities. There are 9 women and three children among those evacuated,” said Singh describing the situation in South Sudan.
VK Singh lead two rescue teams to South Sudan capital Juba on Thursday morning and later met with the Finance Minister of the violence hit country to execute the evacuation plan. 300 out of 600 Indians living in and around Juba registered with the Indian embassy for evacuation and were allowed to board the plane after verification. The first home bound of the two c-17 air crafts sent to Juba left the country on Thursday evening and reached India via Uganda.
The evacuation exercise faced a hurdle when several Indians, after registering with the External Affairs Ministry for leaving South Sudan, refused to return, despite an appeal by External affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Twitter asking them to move out.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj along with top officials from MEA formed a separate task force to rescue 600 stranded Indians from South Sudan on Monday.
The C-17 aircraft was brought via Uganda and the minister also met the Ugandan Prime minister Ruhakana Rugunda who on his part assured of all help. South Sudan is witnessing heavy fighting between former rebels and government soldiers in several parts of the city.